International tourism is bouncing back to almost pre-pandemic levels, according to the UN Tourism agency. In the first quarter of 2024, there were over 285 million international tourists, which is a 20% increase compared to the same period in 2023. This number represents 97% of pre-pandemic levels, nearing a full recovery!

Tourism Recovery
By 2023, the tourism sector had already achieved an 89% recovery, comparing periods to 2019. The tourism GDP had reached pre-Covid-19 levels last year.

The UN Tourism projects that by the end of 2024, we will reach a full 100% recovery in international tourism. Additionally, a 2% increase in arrivals is expected.

Regional Highlights
Let’s take a closer look at the recovery by regions based on the latest data provided by the UN Tourism:

Middle East – The Middle East experienced the biggest growth, with international arrivals in the first quarter of this year increasing by 36% compared to 2019 and 3% higher than 2023. The Middle East was the first region to reach pre-pandemic numbers.
Europe – For the first time, Europe, the most sought-after region by tourists, surpassed pre-pandemic levels with 120 million tourists from around the world.
Africa – Africa welcomed 5% more visitors than in 2019, with a 13% increase compared to 2023.
Americas – The Americas’ recovery was almost complete, reaching 99% compared to 2019 levels.
Asia and Pacific – These regions have shown robust recovery, with arrivals reaching 82% compared to the same period in 2019. In 2023, the increase was 65%.
Zurab Poloikashvili, the UN Tourism Secretary-General, stated: “The sector’s recovery is very good news for our economies and the livelihoods of millions of people. However, it also highlights the need to ensure proper tourism policies and destination management to promote sustainability, inclusion, and address the sector’s impact on resources and communities.”

Top Destinations
Some destinations continue to show strong results, with Qatar, Albania, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, and Tanzania leading the way in increased arrivals compared to the first quarter of 2019.

In 2023, international tourism reached $1.5 trillion in revenue, fully recovering compared to pre-pandemic levels. Europe generated the highest revenue, followed by the Middle East, Americas, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions.

Looking Ahead
The global tourism industry is expected to fully recover by the end of 2024, driven by increased demand, improved air connectivity, and China’s and other Asian markets’ recovery. Experts predict a positive outlook for the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, with only a minority expressing pessimism based on 2023 performance.

Despite the positive outlook, challenges remain, including economic crises in major economies, geopolitical instability, and volatile oil prices affecting airfare costs. These factors can impact traveler confidence and influence tourism performance.

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The fascination with travel started early in Fatima’s life. She believes that the knowledge and experiences gained from travel are invaluable treasures that cannot be taken away. By balancing costs and budget, she has discovered that with proper planning and strategy, it is possible to travel more comfortably. Fatima has explored various continents alone, with her husband, and sometimes with Cookie, her furry companion.