Skift Take

A mix of visa-free policies, American hunger for travel and China's rebound will drive an international tourism boom in 2024.

International tourism will rise by 15% in 2024 from last year, according to data shared by United Nations World Tourism Organization Friday. In fact, it will also exceed 2019 levels by 2%.

The organization expects increased air connectivity, a stronger recovery of Asian markets and destinations and the unleashing of pent-up demand to be key factors in 2024. 

Skift Research this week predicted that Asia will be a growth leader in its 2024 Global Travel Outlook.

Visa-Free Policies To Boost Tourism in 2024

In 2024, China should bring a strong boost, according to the UN group said. Pre-pandemic flights between China and other countries are resuming. China extended visa-free travel to citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia until November 30.

New visa policies from other countries will boost travel. In Africa, Kenya and Rwanda have enacted visa-free travel policies that should facilitate regional tourism growth.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman’s new regional visa is expected to supercharge tourism within parts of the Middle East. The evolution of the Hamas-Israel conflict, however, may disrupt travel in the region and impact traveler confidence, said the UN group.

American Tourism Boom to Continue

Backed by a strong U.S. dollar, American outbound travel is going to power the recovery in 2024. In 2023, American tourists drove the recovery of Europe.

Americans were Paris’ “top foreign clientele” and second highest spenders in 2023, said Corinne Menegaux, managing director of Paris’ Tourist Office. Around 1.8 million Americans visited the city by air in 2023, up 25% from 2022. 

Destinations expect the boom in American tourism to continue. VisitBritain, for example, forecasts Americans will continue be responsible for nearly one in every five pounds of all travel inbound spending in the UK in 2024.

“As in 2023, robust source markets in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, will continue to fuel tourism flows and spending around the world,” said the UN group.

State of International Tourism’s Post-Pandemic Recovery 

By the end of 2023, there were an estimated 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals. Below is a breakdown of how each region compares to their 2019 level.

Region2023 vs Pre-Pandemic Tourism Level
Middle East22% Above
Asia and Pacific65%
Source: United Nations World Tourism Organization

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Tags: international tourism, tourism

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