International tourism reaches 97% of pre-pandemic levels


International tourist arrivals have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels hitting 97 per cent in the first quarter of 2024, according to UN Tourism.

More than 285 million tourists travelled internationally in January-March, about 20 per cent more than the same period in 2023.

The global tourism body expects a full recovery of international tourism this year with arrivals growing 2 per cent above 2019 levels.

The Middle East saw the strongest relative growth, with international arrivals exceeding by 36 per cent pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter.

Europe exceeded pre-pandemic levels in a quarter for the first time, up 1 per cent from Q1 2019.

Africa welcomed 5 per cent more arrivals in the first quarter of 2024 than in Q1 2019, and 13 per cent more than in Q1 2023.

The Americas practically recovered pre-pandemic numbers this first quarter, with arrivals reaching 99 per cent of 2019 levels.

International tourism is experiencing a rapid recovery in Asia and the Pacific where arrivals reached 82 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter.

“The recovery of the sector is very welcome news for our economies and the livelihoods of millions,” UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“Yet it also recalls the need to ensure adequate tourism policies and destination management, aiming to advance sustainability and inclusion, while addressing the externalities and impact of the sector on resources and communities.”