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Global Tourism Recoups 46% of Pre-Covid Levels in First 5 Months

Photo source: UNWTO

Photo source: UNWTO

Global tourism managed in the first five months of the year to recover almost 50 percent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels with Europe leading the way despite the energy crisis, inflationary pressures and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, found the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

More specifically, according to the UNWTO, international tourism recorded a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022, with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded or 46 percent of pre-Covid levels compared to 77 million in the same period a year ago.

“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, who added, however, that the “economic headwinds and geopolitical challenges could impact the sector in the remainder of 2022 and beyond”.

Europe was one of the winners this year with a 350 percent increase in the number of international arrivals in the first five months of 2022 over 2021 boosted by strong intra-regional demand and the removal of all travel restrictions.

Travel picked up in Europe in April, when the number of arrivals was up by 458 percent. Arrivals overall were down by 36 percent compared to pre-Covid 2019.

The Americas also fared well, according to the UNWTO barometer, with twice as many arrivals in the five-month 2022 period, up by 112 percent. Arrivals, however, were still 40 percent below 2019 levels.

The report goes on to note that tourism spending is on the rise by major source markets. International expenditure by tourists from France, Germany, Italy and the US is now at 70 percent to 85 percent of 2019 levels, while spending from India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar has already exceeded 2019 levels.

Photo source: UNWTO

UNWTO figures indicate that many destinations including rival Turkey have fully recovered pre-Covid travel receipts as did the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Seychelles, Romania, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Mexico, Croatia and Portugal.

Looking ahead, the UNWTO sees international arrivals reaching 55-70 percent of pre-Covid levels in 2022 depending on changing travel restrictions, inflation, energy prices, overall economic conditions, the evolution of the Russia-Ukraine war as well as Covid developments. It goes on also to refer to staff shortages, severe airport congestion and flight delays and cancellations which could also impact international tourism figures.

Europe and the Americas are expected to mark the best tourism results in 2022. According to the UNWTO, international tourist arrivals in Europe could climb to 65-80 percent of 2019 levels in 2022.

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