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Travel recovery continues to appear as international arrivals increase 320%

International travel is recovering despite ongoing geopolitical and financial “headwinds”. Europe and the Americas are leading the rebound, while the key Asian-Pacific market is beginning to make up ground as borders reopen and restrictions ease.

The latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) all points to a growing pace of recovery, with UNWTO reporting a “strong rebound” in international arrivals for the first five months of 2022, while IATA highlighted a 229.5% year-on-year increase in total international passenger traffic in June compared to the same month last year.

The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer pointed to the 324% increase in international traffic in the first four months of the year which saw 250 million international arrival recorded, compared to 77 million in the same period in 2021. This figure took the market back to almost half (46%) of pre-pandemic levels.

Worldwide, the UNWTO predicts international arrivals will reach between 55% and 70% of pe-pandemic levels in 2022, with Europe and the Americas set to lead the way with a recovery of between 63% and 80%, while Asia Pacific will only see about 30%.

International arrivals in Europe rose 350% year-on-year for the period from January to May, with April performing particularly well, with an increase of 458%. The Americas doubled its numbers year-on-year, with an increase of 112%. But both regions lag behind pre-pandemic levels, with figures down 36% in Europe and 40% in the Americas.

the Middle East (+157%) and Africa (+156%) both saw year-on-year growth in international arrivals and the reopening of borders and easing of restrictions in some parts of Asia Pacific saw arrivals almost double, with a 94% increase on 2021.

Growth was led by some subregions, such as the caribbean and Central Americaor the Southern Mediterraneanwhich recovered to between 70% and 80% of their pre-pandemic traffic during the period.

The rise is being reflected by tourist spend in core markets, with travelers from France, Germany, Italy and the Untied States now reaching up to 85% of levels seen before the pandemic, while tourists from India Saudi Arabia and Qatar have surpassed 2019’s spending levels .

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The recovery of tourism has gathered pace in many parts of the world, weathering the challenges standing in its way.”

But, I added: “[There are] economic headwinds and geopolitical challenges which could impact the sector in the remainder of 2022 and beyond”.

IATA’s figures support the continued growth, with passenger data for June showing a 229.5% increase in international traffic and a 5.2% increase in domestic traffic compared to the same month in 2021.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh explained: “Demand for air travel remains strong. After two years of lockdowns and border restrictions people are taking advantage of the freedom to travel wherever they can.”

Airlines in Asia Pacific saw a 492% increase in June traffic, compared to 2021, while figures in Europe and the Middle East rose 234% and 245% respectively. In the Americas, North American airlines saw a rise of 168%, while Latin American services experienced a 136% increase in traffic.

“With the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season now fully underway, predictions that the lifting of travel restrictions would unleash a torrent of pent-up travel demand are being borne out,” Walsh concluded.

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