Global tourists could reach 516 million before 2023 ends

Middle East tourism sector also on the rise
Global tourists could reach 516 million before 2023 ends
Global tourism continues to recover post-pandemic

According to a recently released report by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), global tourists could hit 516 million before 2023 ends. This number is nearly 76 percent of the international visitor arrivals (IVAs) recorded in 2019 before the pandemic.

The report, called “Annual Tourism Monitor 2023,” furthermore noted that IVA figures could increase to 107 percent in 2024 and 116 percent in 2025.

“The wave is coming, and we must prepare ourselves to ensure that we have a better, stronger and more resilient tourism and travel industry,” shared Peter Semone, chairman of PATA.

Tourism in Asia-Pacific region

Apart from revealing forecasts for global tourists in 2023, the report also highlighted the performance of the tourism sector in the Asia-Pacific. This region encompasses territories bordering the western Pacific Ocean. It includes Türkiye, Iran, India, Indonesia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia and the Maldives. 

According to PATA, the region experienced a collective annual increase of nearly 124.2 million foreign arrivals in 2022. This growth resulted in a total inbound count of around 265.5 million for the year.

The report also delved into how the three major areas in the region, namely the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, fared. At 111.6 percent, the Pacific saw the highest year-on-year (YoY) growth rate in 2022. Asia and the Americas recorded an 88.5 percent and 84.2 percent YoY growth, respectively.

Regarding the number of arrivals, Asian countries led with a collective figure of 64.8 million IVAs. The Americas followed with nearly 51 million global tourists arriving. Lastly, the Pacific welcomed 8.35 million tourists.

Meanwhile, the Americas exhibited a strong recovery in IVAs, reaching 69 percent of its 2019 levels. The Pacific and Asia’s recovery rates are 57 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Mainland China has remained the most significant source market in terms of volume in the Asia Pacific region. It accounted for nearly 30 percent of IVAs from Asia in 2019 and 19 percent of total visitor numbers in Asia Pacific destinations.

Middle East tourism also expands

In parallel to Asia Pacific, global tourists visiting Middle East countries also increased.

As reported by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Middle East region’s IVAs reached 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Meanwhile, HSBC shared that in the first quarter of 2023, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Türkiye emerged as notable top destinations in terms of tourist arrivals.

Read: Saudi raises tourism target to 150 mn visitors by 2030

“The Middle East region saw the strongest performance in terms of recovery in tourism and is the first region in the world to recover beyond pre-pandemic numbers,” remarked Maitreyi Das. She is an HSBC securities and capital markets economist. 

The tourism sector plays a vital role in Middle Eastern nations’ economic growth. This is especially true for countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aiming to diversify their economies away from oil dependency. 

HSBC’s report emphasized that at 5 percent, the Middle East has the highest share of gross domestic product (GDP) derived from tourism globally. The Asia-Pacific region takes second place, with over 4 percent of its GDP from tourism.

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