A UN report said international tourism saw a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022, with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
This compares to 77 million arrivals from January to May 2021 and means that the sector has recovered almost half (46 per cent) of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
“The recovery of tourism has gathered pace in many parts of the world, weathering the challenges standing in its way”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. At the same time, he also advises caution in view of the “economic headwinds and geopolitical challenges which could impact the sector in the remainder of 2022 and beyond”.
According to the UN report, Europe welcomed more than four times as many international arrivals as in the first five months of 2021 (+350 per cent), boosted by strong intra-regional demand and the removal of all travel restrictions in a growing number of countries.
The region saw a particularly robust performance in April (+458 per cent), reflecting a busy Easter period. In the Americas, arrivals more than doubled (+112 per cent). However, the strong rebound is measured against weak results in 2021 and arrivals remain overall 36 per cent and 40 per cent below 2019 levels in both regions, respectively.
The same pattern is seen across other regions. The strong growth in the Middle East (+157 per cent) and Africa (+156 per cent) remained 54 per cent and 50 per cent below 2019 levels respectively, and Asia and the Pacific almost doubled arrivals (+94 per cent), though numbers were 90 per cent below 2019, as some borders remained closed to non-essential travel.Rising tourism spending out of the major source markets is consistent with the observed recovery. International expenditure by tourists from France, Germany, Italy and the United States is now at 70per cent to 85per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while spending from India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar has already exceeded 2019 levels.
In terms of international tourism receipts earned in destinations, a growing number of countries – the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Seychelles, Romania, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkiye, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Mexico, Croatia and Portugal – have fully recovered their pre-pandemic levels.
UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios published in May 2022 point to international arrivals reaching 55per cent to 70per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Results depend on evolving circumstances, mostly changing travel restrictions, ongoing inflation, including high energy prices, and overall economic conditions, the evolution of the war in Ukraine, as well as the health situation related to the pandemic. More recent challenges such as staff shortages, severe airport congestion and flight delays and cancellations could also impact international tourism numbers.