Global tourism is set to fully recover from the pandemic in 2024 as international tourist arrivals will likely be 2% more numerous than in 2019, the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation said on Friday.
Increased global air connectivity and a strong recovery of Asian markets will allow a full rebound of tourism activities worldwide this year, even though geopolitical instability in the Middle East and elsewhere constitutes a risk for the industry as it affects would-be travellers' confidence, the UN tourism body said.
In 2023, travel demand in Europe and Africa almost reached pre-pandemic levels, and surpassed them in the Middle East.
Some destinations, such as Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean and the Central American and North African sub-regions, exceeded their 2019 international tourism arrivals last year.
The organization expects the Chinese market to soar in 2024, after the government allowed visa-free travel for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia until 30 November 2024. Flight capacity into and out of China is set to increase this year.
In 2023, international tourism ended at 88% of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.3 billion international travellers.
The overall industry contribution to the global economy in 2023 was $3.3 trillion (€3.0 trillion), according to the report.
Not Slowing Down
Meanwhile, Melia Hotels chief executive Gabriel Escarrer said on Tuesday he expected occupancy rates at its hotels globally to fully recover in 2024 to pre-pandemic levels, with prices increasing a "single-digit" percentage.
Spain's largest hotel company expects to open new hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia this year to reap benefits from an industry that shows no signs of slowing down, he said.
Article by Reuters, additional reporting by Hospitality Ireland.