International tourism nearly back on track, says UNWTO, reaching 84% of pre-pandemic levels

GENEVA — International tourism has nearly fully recovered from its worst crisis in its history, reaching 84% of pre-pandemic arrival numbers between January and July 2023.

According to the latest data from UNWTO, 700 million tourists travelled internationally during this time period, 43% more than in the same months of 2022. July was the busiest month with 145 million international travellers recorded, about 20% of the seven-month total.

“UNWTO data once again shows how tourism is recovering strongly in every part of the world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “But as our sector recovers, it also needs to adapt. The extreme weather events we have witnessed over recent months as well as the critical challenges of managing increasing tourism flows underline the need to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient sector and ensure recovery goes hand-in-hand with rethinking of our sector.”

All world regions enjoyed strong rates of recovery over the first seven months of 2023. The Middle East led the way with arrivals 20% above pre-pandemic levels, and is the only region to exceed 2019 levels so far. Europe, the world’s largest destination region, reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels, while Africa and the Americas recovered 92% and 87% of pre-crisis visitors, respectively.

These results show international tourism remains on track to reach 80%-95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Prospects for September-December point to continued recovery, though at a more moderate pace following the peak travel season of June-August. 

Factors to watch out for are a challenging economic environment and persisting inflation and rising oil prices, which have translated into higher transport and accommodations costs.

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