UNWTO research points to sustained tourism recovery

UNWTO research points to sustained tourism recovery

Globally, destinations welcomed almost three times more international arrivals in Q1 2022 vs Q1 2021

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, tourism continues to recover at a robust pace.

The newly released UNWTO data indicates that international tourism increased 182% year-on-year from January to March 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in Q1 2021.

Of the extra 76 million international arrivals in Q1 2021, around 47 million were recorded in March, showing that the recovery of the travel and tourism sector is gathering pace.

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UNWTO data showed that the Middle East and Africa saw strong growth in Q1 2022 compared to 2021 – Middle East arrivals grew 132% and Africa arrivals grew 96% – but arrivals remained 59% and 61% below 2019 levels, respectively.

Asia and the Pacific recorded a 64% increase over 2021, but levels were 93% below 2019 numbers as several destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Europe welcomed almost four times as many international arrivals (an increase of 280% from Q1 2021), with results-driven by strong intra-regional demand.

In the Americas, arrivals more than doubled by 117% in the period. However, arrivals in Europe and the Americas were still 43% and 46% below 2019 levels, respectively.


Although international tourism remains 61% below 2019 levels, the gradual recovery is expected to continue throughout 2022, as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions and pent-up demand is unleashed. 

As of 2 June 2022, 45 destinations (of which 31 are in Europe) had no Covid-19 related restrictions and many destinations in Asia have now also started to ease restrictions.

Despite these positive prospects, a challenging economic environment coupled with the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine poses a risk to the ongoing recovery of international tourism. The conflict has major economic repercussions globally, exacerbating already high oil prices and general inflation and disrupting international supply chains, which results in higher transport and accommodation costs for the tourism sector.

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