The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says 2023 is likely to record higher international tourist arrivals similar to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
While all regions are expected to bounce back, Europe and the Middle East are expected to lead in solid recovery, but tourists are nonetheless expected to increasingly seek value for money and travel closer to home in response to the challenging economic climate, said the organization in its latest update.
“Based on UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023, international tourist arrivals could reach 80 percent to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, depending on the extent of the economic slowdown, the ongoing recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific and the evolution of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, among other factors,” said the global tourism agency.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, said, a new year brings more reason for optimism for global tourism, UNWTO anticipates a strong year for the sector even in the face of diverse challenges, including the economic situation and continued geopolitical uncertainity.
“Economic factors may influence how people travel in 2023, and UNWTO expects demand for domestic and regional travel to remain strong and help drive the sector’s wider recovery”, he said.
According to new data from UNWTO, more than 900 million tourists traveled internationally in 2022, double the number recorded in 2021, though still 63 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Every global region recorded notable increases in international tourist numbers.
The Middle East enjoyed the strongest relative increase as arrivals climbed to 83 percent of pre-pandemic numbers while Europe reached nearly 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels as it welcomed 585 million arrivals in 2022.
Africa on one hand, and the Americas both recovered about 65 percent of their pre-pandemic visitors, while Asia and the Pacific reached only 23 percent due to stronger pandemic-related restrictions, which have started to be removed only in recent months.
Furthermore, UNWTO said continued uncertainty caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine and other mounting geopolitical tensions, as well as health challenges related to COVID-19 also represent downside risks and could weigh on tourism’s recovery in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, the latest UNWTO Confidence Index shows cautious optimism for January-April, higher than the same period in 2022, the optimism is backed by the opening up in Asia and strong spending numbers in 2022 from both traditional and emerging tourism source markets, with France, Germany and Italy, as well as Qatar, India and Saudi Arabia all posting strong results.