International tourism on track to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024

International tourism is on track to exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

International tourism is set to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024 after hitting 88 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2023.

According to the first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of the year, 2023 saw an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals.

Continued pent-up demand, increased air connectivity and a stronger recovery of Asian markets and destinations are expected to underpin a full recovery by the end of 2024.

The Middle East led recovery in relative terms as the only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels with arrivals 22 per cent above 2019.

Europe reached 94 per cent of 2019 levels, supported by intra-regional demand and travel from the United States.

Africa recovered 96 per cent of pre-pandemic visitors and Americas reached 90 per cent.

Asia and the Pacific reached 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels following the reopening of several markets and destinations. However, performance is mixed, with South Asia already recovering 87 per cent of 2019 levels and North-East Asia around 55 per cent.

“The latest UNWTO data underscores tourism’s resilience and rapid recovery, with pre-pandemic numbers expected by the end of 2024,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“The rebound is already having a significant impact on economies, jobs, growth and opportunities for communities everywhere. These numbers also recall the critical task of progressing sustainability and inclusion in tourism development.”

The sustained recovery is also reflected in the performance of industry indicators. According to the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker, both international air capacity and passenger demand recovered about 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels through October 2023.

Global occupancy rates in accommodation establishments reached 65 per cent in November, slightly above 62 per cent in November 2022.

International tourism in 2024 is estimated to see 2 per cent growth above 2019 levels, with significant room for recovery across Asia.