Africa on verge of pre-pandemic tourism levels
by DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – AFRICA has reached 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels in tourism arrivals, as international tourism is on course to return to levels before the COVID-19.
That is according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) Tourism Barometer, which shows that overall, international arrivals reached 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023.
An estimated 235 million tourists travelled internationally in the first three months, more than double the same period of 2022.
Tourism has continued to show its resilience, with revised data for 2022 showing over 960 million tourists travelling internationally last year, meaning two-thirds (66 percent) of pre-pandemic numbers were recovered.
“The start of the year has shown again tourism’s unique ability to bounce back,” said WTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
While the industry is close to or even above pre-pandemic levels of arrivals, however, the executive said the sector must remain alert to challenges ranging from geopolitical insecurity, staffing shortages and the potential impact of the cost-of-living crisis on tourism.
“We must ensure tourism’s return delivers on its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency and as a driver of inclusive development,” Pololikashvili said.
The upward trend is set to accelerate now that most destinations, particularly China, have re-opened.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) last Friday declared the end of COVID-19 as a global public health emergency.
– CAJ News