from DION HENRICK in Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN – AFRICA recovered about 65 percent of its pre-pandemic visitors, spur ring hope that this year could see international tourism arrivals return to pre-COVID levels.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) anticipates a strong year for the sector even in the face of diverse challenges including the economic situation and continued geopolitical uncertainty.
According to new UNWTO data, more than 900 million tourists travelled internationally in 2022 – double the number recorded in 2021 though still 63 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Besides Africa, all regions recorded notable increases in international tourist numbers.
“A new year brings more reason for optimism for global tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
“UNWTO anticipates a strong year for the sector even in the face of diverse challenges including the economic situation and continued geopolitical uncertainty.”
Based on UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023, global international tourist arrivals could reach 80 percent to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, depending on the extent of the economic slowdown, the ongoing recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific and the evolution of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, among other factors.
“Economic factors may influence how people travel in 2023 and UNWTO expects demand for domestic and regional travel to remain strong and help drive the sector’s wider recovery,” Pololikashvili said.
The recent lifting of COVID-19 related travel restrictions in China, the world’s largest outbound market in 2019, is hailed as a significant step for the recovery of the tourism sector in Asia and the Pacific and worldwide.
– CAJ News