Post-pandemic tourism: A regional analysis of the world

Following the theme of trends in international tourism, this time we are going to explore how different regions of the world are recovering after the blows suffered in recent years, such as the pandemic, the increase in the cost of transportation and insecurity, among others.

The key indicator to evaluate the successful recovery of tourism in a country is the comparison with the levels prior to the pandemic, that is, year 2019.

According to a study carried out by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism is advancing at an encouraging pace. In the first quarter of 2023, international tourist arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels, with 235 million tourists taking international trips, more than double compared to the same period in 2022.

However, when analyzing by regions of the world, significant differences are observed. The study reveals the following:

  • The Middle East has outperformed, being the only region to surpass 2019 arrivals (+15%) and the first to recover pre-pandemic figures in a full quarter.
  • Europe has reached 90% of pre-pandemic tourism levels, thanks to intense intra-regional demand.
  • Africa and the Americas have reached 88% and close to 85%, respectively, of the levels registered in 2019.
  • The Asia-Pacific region has accelerated its recovery, reaching 54% of pre-pandemic levels. This upward trend is expected to intensify now that most destinations, especially China, have reopened their borders for non-essential travel.

In the words of Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of UNWTO: “This beginning of the year has once again demonstrated the extraordinary resilience of tourism. In many places, we are close to or even exceeding pre-pandemic levels of arrivals. However, we must remain alert to challenges such as geopolitical insecurity, staff shortages and the potential impact of the cost of living crisis on tourism, and ensure that tourism lives up to its responsibility as a solution to the climate emergency and as a driver for inclusive development.

These positive results are forecast to continue for the remainder of the year with hotel bookings forecast to exceed 90-95% this summer, compared to 76.9% in 2019. This is expected despite rising prices, estimated by 21% higher than 2019 during this summer, according to data from Cinco Días.

However, some point out that this rebound in 2023 could be just a mirage. We are still building on the post-COVID momentum and accumulated savings from families after two years without travel. However, there will come a time when inflation will take its toll.

At Irismedia we analyze the evolution of Tourism and trace the signs that make up the trends to advise on the strategy to follow in the short, medium and long term. This is how we accompany our clients with the construction of the Country Brand.