Will global tourism return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023?

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Will global tourism return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023?

Based on the forecast scenarios of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for 2023, the number of international tourists in the world this year could reach 80 & ndash; 95% of pre-pandemic levels . The recovery of the industry will continue to be affected by the economic downturn and inflation, the pace of tourism recovery in the Asia-Pacific region and events in Ukraine and other factors.

All regions bounce back

More than 900 million in 2022, according to new UNWTO datatourists have traveled internationally. This is double what it was in 2021, but only 63% of the pre-pandemic level. The growth of the international tourist flow has been recorded in every region of the world. The most notable increase was in the Middle East, where the number of arrivals reached 83% of 2019. Europe has risen to almost 80% of the normal level — 585 million arrivals in 2022. Africa, North and South America returned about 65% of the volume, but in the Asia-Pacific region, the number of foreigners was only 23% due to the tightening of restrictions, which began to be lifted only in recent months.

Chinese tourists are going to return

UNWTO predicts that the recovery of the Chinese market will continue throughout 2023. The recent lifting of travel restrictions in China, the world's largest outbound market in 2019 — an important step for the recovery of the tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. In the short term, the resumption of travel from China will benefit primarily Asian destinations. However, much depends on the availability and cost of air travel, visa regulations and COVID-19 restrictions at destinations.  By mid-January, a total of 32 countries had placed specific restrictions on tourists traveling from China.

At the same time, strong US demand, backed by a strong dollar, will continue to benefit destinations in the region and beyond. Europe will continue to receive a strong tourist flow from the US, partly due to the weakening of the euro against the dollar.

Most destinations recorded a notable increase in international tourism receipts in 2022, in some cases exceeding the number of arrivals. This was driven by an increase in the average travel bill due to higher ticket and hotel prices, inflation, longer stays and travelers' willingness to spend more at their destination. However, the economic situation may lead tourists to be more cautious in 2023 by reducing costs, travel times and staying in their region.

In addition, continued uncertainty caused by events in Eastern Europe and in elsewhere in the world, as well as health concerns related to COVID-19, also pose downside risks and could affect the recovery of tourism in the coming months. 

The latest UNWTO Confidence Index shows cautious optimism for January- April — this is better than the same period in 2022. This optimism is underpinned by openness in Asia and strong spending performance in 2022 in both traditional and emerging travel markets. France, Germany, Italy, as well as Qatar, India and Saudi Arabia showed strong results. TURIZM.RU

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