The Middle East exceeded its pre-pandemic international tourist arrival numbers by over 20% through September this year, according to the UN World Tourism Organization’s latest data. That’s before the Israel-Hamas conflict started in early October.
UNWTO accredited the Middle East’s performance to new visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, new tourism-related projects and hosting large events.
Other regions are still making a recovery. Europe took up the biggest share of global tourism at 56%, having welcomed 550 million international tourists. The region hit 94% of its pre-pandemic level. Strong U.S. and intra-regional demand is driving the rebound.
Africa hit 92% of its pre-pandemic international tourism level. The Americas reached 88% thanks to strong U.S. demand for travel to the Caribbean.
Asia-Pacific reached 62% due to its slower reopening to international travel. There are large differences within the region: South Asia recovered to 95% while North-East Asia was only at about 50%.
International tourism overall recovered 87% of its pre-pandemic level in the first nine months of 2023. About 975 million tourists traveled internationally between January and September 2023, up 38% from the same period in 2022.
This year, international tourism spending is projected to $1.4 trillion in, 93% of its 2019 level.