International Tourism Continues To Make Gains
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals almost tripled in January to July 2022 (+172%) compared to the same period of 2021.
Those gains mean that the sector recovered almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels. The steady recovery reflects strong pent-up demand for international travel as well as the easing or lifting of travel restrictions to date (86 countries had no COVID-19 related restrictions as of Sept. 19, 2022).
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism continues to recover steadily, yet several challenges remain, from geopolitical to economic. The sector is bringing back hope and opportunity for people everywhere. Now is also the time to rethink tourism, where it is going and how it impacts people and planet.”
Now is also the time to rethink tourism, where it is going and how it impacts people and planet
An estimated 474 million tourists travelled internationally over the period, compared to the 175 million in the same months of 2021. An estimated 207 million international arrivals were recorded in June and July 2022 combined, over twice the numbers seen in the same two months last year. These months represent 44% of the total arrivals recorded in the first seven months of 2022. Europe welcomed 309-million of these arrivals, accounting for 65% of the total.
Prospects for the remainder of the year are cautiously optimistic. Although above-average performance is expected, tourism experts rated the period September-December 2022 with a score of 111, below the 125 score of the previous four months, showing a downgrade in confidence levels.
Almost half of experts (47%) see positive prospects for the period September-December 2022, while 24% expect no particular change and 28% consider it could be worse.
Experts also seem confident about 2023, as 65% see better tourism performance than in 2022.
The uncertain economic environment seems to have nonetheless reversed prospects for a return to pre-pandemic levels in the near term. Some 61% of experts now see a potential return of international arrivals to 2019 levels in 2024 or later while those indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 has diminished (27%) compared to the May survey (48%).
According to experts, the economic environment continues to be the main factor weighing on the recovery of international tourism. Rising inflation and the spike in oil prices results in higher transport and accommodation costs, while putting consumer purchasing power and savings under pressure.