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International travel up in 2022 – UN

International travel doubled in 2022 compared to 2021, Deutsche Welle reports.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said more than 900 million tourists made overseas trips in 2022 as several countries with strict coronavirus restrictions relaxed rules. According to the report, international tourism is picking up but has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels.

The report says the figure is 63 percent of pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, almost 1.5 billion people made international trips, and in 2021 – about 455 million people.

Before the pandemic, travel and tourism accounted for nearly 10 percent of the global GDP. The tourism industry was valued at about $3.5 trillion in 2019, and the pandemic has put millions of jobs at risk.

The most significant relative increase last year was in the Middle East, where international arrivals reached 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Europe, where 31 countries had no travel restrictions due to the coronavirus as of June 2 last year, has also made a strong recovery, up 80 percent from pre-pandemic travel levels.

In Africa and the Americas, international travel has returned to about 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, the recovery in Asia and the Pacific has been much slower as several countries in the Asia-Pacific still have coronavirus-related restrictions in place, and several international travels reached only 23 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Still, the return of Chinese travelers, who are among the world’s biggest tour consumers, is likely to benefit Asian destinations in the short term, the researchers said.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement that the agency expects a strong year for the sector even in the face of various challenges, including the economic situation and ongoing geopolitical uncertainty.

The Madrid-based UN agency is optimistic about a near-full recovery in international travel this year, hoping international travel will rise to 80-95 percent of pre-pandemic levels, conditions permitting. However, they warned that factors such as inflation, a slowdown in economic growth, or the conflict in Ukraine could influence people’s decisions.

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