International tourism reaches pre-pandemic levels, doubles in Q1FY23

In the first three months, almost 235 million tourists travelled internationally, more than double in the same period in 2022

BS Web Team New Delhi

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International tourism is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with twice as many individuals travelling in the first quarter of 2023 as in the same period in 2022, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported.
According to the report, the sector's remarkable recovery will continue into 2023.

In the first three months, almost 235 million tourists travelled internationally, more than double the number in the same period in 2022. Thus, overseas arrivals surpassed 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023, it said.
Tourism has shown resilience, with data for 2022 indicating that over 960 million (66 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers) tourists travelling internationally last year were recovered, it added.

Regional recovery in the first quarter of 2023
West Asia experienced the strongest recovery, as it was the only region to outnumber 2019 arrivals (over 15 per cent) and the first to recover pre-pandemic numbers.

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Europe surpassed 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, owing to strong intra-regional demand.
The US reached about 85 per cent of 2019 levels, while Africa reached 88 per cent.

Asia and the Pacific expedited their recovery, returning to 54 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, although this upward trend is expected to continue now that most destinations, particularly China, have reopened.
"The start of the year has shown tourism's unique ability to bounce back. In many regions, arrivals are approaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels," said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

"We must, however, remain vigilant to challenges such as geopolitical insecurity, staffing shortages, and the potential impact of the cost-of-living crisis on tourism, and we must ensure that tourism's return fulfils its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency and a driver of inclusive development," he said.
The report also stated that international tourist receipts surpassed the $1 trillion mark in 2022, growing 50 per cent in real terms compared to 2021.

Global tourist expenditure reached 64 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, it added.
Europe saw the best results in 2022, with 87 per cent of pre-pandemic levels (around $550 billion) in tourism receipts.

West Asia recovered 70 per cent of its pre-pandemic receipts, the US recovered 68 per cent and Africa recovered 75 per cent. Asian destinations earned about 28 per cent due to prolonged border shutdowns.
Challenges in tourism industry's recovery

According to a UNWTO panel of experts, the economic situation remains the most significant impediment to the effective recovery of international tourism in 2023. Inflation and rising oil prices translate into higher transportation and lodging costs.
As a result of the challenging economic environment, travellers are increasingly seeking value for money and travelling closer to home. Uncertainty resulting from Russia's aggression against Ukraine, as well as other mounting geopolitical tensions, constitutes downside risks.

First Published: May 15 2023 | 1:16 PM IST

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