An estimated 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September, more than double (+133%) the number recorded for the same period in 2021. This equates to 63% of 2019 levels and puts the sector on course to reach 65% of its pre-pandemic levels this year, in line with UNWTO scenarios. Results were boosted by strong pent-up demand, improved confidence levels and the lifting of restrictions in an increasing number of destinations.
Highlighting the speed at which the sector has recovered from the worst crisis in its history, the latest World Tourism Barometer from UNWTO reveals that monthly arrivals were 64% below 2019 levels in January 2022 and had reached -27% by September. An estimated 340 million international arrivals were recorded in the third quarter of 2022 alone, almost 50% of the nine-month total.
Europe continues to lead global recovery
Europe continues to lead the rebound of international tourism. The region welcomed 477 million international arrivals in January-September 2022 (68% of the world total), hitting 81% of pre-pandemic levels. This was more than double that of 2021 (+126%) with results boosted by strong intra-regional demand and travel from the United States. Europe saw particularly robust performance in Q3, when arrivals reached almost 90% of 2019 levels.
At the same time, the Middle East saw international arrivals more than triple (+225%) year on year in January-September 2022, climbing to 77% of pre-pandemic levels.. Africa (+166%) and the Americas (+106%) also recorded strong growth compared to 2021, reaching 63% and 66% of 2019 levels, respectively. In Asia and the Pacific (+230%) arrivals more than tripled in the first nine months of 2022, reflecting the opening of many destinations, including Japan at the end of September. However, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific remained 83% below 2019 levels. China, a key source market for the region, remains closed.
Arrivals and receipts at – or above – pre-pandemic levels
Several subregions reached 80% to 90% of their pre-pandemic arrivals in January-September 2022. Western Europe (88%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (86%) saw the fastest recovery towards 2019 levels. The Caribbean, Central America (both 82%) and Northern Europe (81%) also recorded strong results. Destinations reporting arrivals above pre-pandemic levels in the nine months through September include Albania, Ethiopia, Honduras, Andorra, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador and Iceland.
In the month of September arrivals surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the Middle East (+3% over 2019) and the Caribbean (+1%) and came close in Central America (-7%), Northern Europe (-9%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (-10%).
Meanwhile, some destinations recorded notable increases in international tourism receipts in the first seven to nine months of 2022, including Serbia, Romania, Türkiye, Latvia, Portugal, Pakistan, Mexico, Morocco and France. The recovery can also be seen in outbound tourism spending from major source markets, with strong results from France where expenditure reached -8% through September, compared to 2019. Other markets reporting strong spending in the first six to nine months of 2022 were Germany, Belgium, Italy, the United States, Qatar, India and Saudi Arabia.
Strong demand for air travel and hotel accommodation
The robust recovery of tourism is also reflected in various industry indicators such as air capacity and hotel metrics, as recorded in the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker. Air seat capacity on international routes (measured in available seat-kilometres or ASKs) in January-August reached 62% of 2019 levels, with Europe (78%) and the Americas (76%) posting the strongest results. Worldwide domestic capacity rose to 86% of 2019 levels, with the Middle East (99%) virtually achieving pre-pandemic levels (IATA).
Meanwhile, according to STR, global hotel occupancy rates reached 66% in September 2022, from 43% in January. Europe led the way with occupancy levels at 77% in September 2022, following rates of 74% in July and August. The Americas (66%), the Middle East (63%) and Africa (61%) all saw occupancy rates above 60% in September. By subregion, Southern Mediterranean Europe (79%), Western Europe (75%) and Oceania (70%) showed the highest occupancy rates in September 2022.
Cautious optimism for the months ahead
The challenging economic environment, including persistently high inflation and soaring energy prices, aggravated by the Russian offensive in Ukraine, could weigh on the pace of recovery in Q4 and into 2023. The latest survey among the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows a downgrade in confidence levels for the last four months of 2022, reflecting more cautious optimism. Despite growing challenges pointing to a softening of the recovery pace, export revenues from tourism could reach USD 1.2 to 1.3 trillion in 2022, a 60-70% increase over 2021, or 70-80% of the USD 1.8 trillion recorded in 2019.
Image Credit: © AA
The most interesting news
Save this Black Friday and experience Passau
Our insider tip is the city of Passau! Known for sightseeing, shopping, cycling, golf, hiking in the Bavarian Forest and beautiful Christmas markets. The IBB Hotel Passau Süd can be found in this charming city. It is the perfect place for a family v
World Halal Summit, OIC Halal Expo to begin in Istanbul on Thursday
4-day events to see participation of nearly 500 companies from 40 countries.
Athens mayor suggests city tax on tourists
Tourist influx put extra pressure on municipal services, says Kostas Bakoyannis.
Celebrate the 51st UAE National Day with Emirates
Celebrating the 51st UAE National Day on 2 December, Emirates is marking the occasion with a range of activities, from new design motifs and lighting schemes in its aircraft cabins, to traditional Arabic sweets served onboard and in the Emirates Loun
Simple Excellence: Bristoria Hotel Erbil has opened its doors this week
With the best of the city in close vicinity, Bristoria Hotel Erbil has opened its doors for first guests this week. With essential needs done to perfection, the refurbished property will concentrate on modern travellers visiting Erbil seeking busines
First Changsha Tourism Development Conference Opened in Wangcheng District
On November 22 to 24, the first Changsha Tourism Development Conference is held in the Wangcheng district of Changsha.
Istanbul expos begin with focus on multitrillion-dollar halal market's global reach
Halal market's influence extends well beyond just Muslims to everyone seeking quality products, services, says President Erdogan.
‘Turkey and India should develop visa-free regime to promote tourism’
President of Travel Agents Association of India says both countries should adopt liberal policies to boost sustainable experiential tourism
Team event on board new A-ROSA SENA
More than 130 colleagues from the river cruise line explored the E-Motion Ship.
Zleep Hotels to open in Recharge City, Horsens
Recharge City - Europe's largest parking and charging station sets new standards for travelers.
Experience The Untold Story Of Indonesian Festive at Four Points By Sheraton Bali, Ungasan
Entering the month full of excitement, Four Points by Sheraton Bali Ungasan, offers guests a stylish and affordable 4-star hotel experience built around attentive service and contemporary amenities for your festive holidays.
Raffles & Fairmont make debut in Qatar
The ultra-luxury Raffles Doha and luxury Fairmont Doha – which herald the entry of the aspirational Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts brands to Qatar – are now open exclusively to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ guests and the V
After 2-year COVID ban, Japan opens ports to international cruise ships
New health guidelines require over 95% of passengers to be vaccinated twice, crew members vaccinated thrice.
Emirates to operate double daily direct flights to Colombo from 1 December
Emirates has announced plans to add an additional daily direct flight between Dubai and Colombo, starting from 1 December 2022, to cater to the seasonal increase in the demand for travel.
KAYAK Partners with CLEAR to Help Travelers Get Through the Holidays
Today is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel day at airports across the country, according to KAYAK's search data, and with that comes the anxiety and stress of having to navigate crowded airports. In fact, a new study from KAYAK, the worl
Emirates and flydubai celebrate five years of partnership
Five things to know about how they’re delivering more benefits for travellers.
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts Introduces The House of Celebration
From champagne sabrage to lavish holiday feasts and custom gift wrapping, the spirit of revelry comes to life in exquisite fashion at St. Regis Hotels & Resorts.
Enjoy December 5th with a hot, frothy Turkish coffee
A world-famous beverage, the Turkish coffee holds an important place in Turkish culture. The beverage is so significant that, in 2013, UNESCO designated December 5th as the worldwide Turkish Coffee Day. Let's celebrate this day with a hot, frothy Tur
Hyatt Announces the Opening of Hyatt Regency Trivandrum
The 132-room hotel is the third Hyatt property in the state of Kerala.
Trip.com Group signed a new strategic agreement with Kazakh Tourism
Trip.com Group and the National Company Kazakh Tourism signed a new cooperation agreement at the World Travel Market exhibition in London earlier this month.
‘Changing European River Cruises’ released
A-ROSA River Cruises presents 2023 international brochure.