Despite recent complex economic and geopolitical fluctuations, the tourism industry still demonstrates strong vitality. The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that there were an estimated 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals in 2023, representing 88% of pre-pandemic levels.
Notably, UNWTO data also shows the important role of tourism in the world economy. Revenue from international tourism reached about 1,400 billion USD.
According to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) data, there were an estimated 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals in 2023, representing 88% of pre-pandemic levels.
"The latest UNWTO data underscores tourism's resilience and rapid recovery, with pre-pandemic numbers expected by the end of 2024," said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
"The rebound is already having a significant impact on economies, jobs, growth and opportunities for communities everywhere," he noted.
All regions of the world have seen faster-than-expected recovery in the smokeless industry. In 2023, the Middle East led recovery in relative terms as the only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels with arrivals 22% above 2019.
Along with that strong development trend, Europe, the world's most visited region, reached 94% of 2019 levels, supported by intra-regional demand and travel from the US. Meanwhile, Africa and the Americas both recovered about 65% of their pre-pandemic visitors.
Experts say that there is absolutely reason to expect the tourism industry to take off in 2024, because tourism in the Asian region still has a lot of potential.
Tourism demand has increased sharply after a period of pandemic, causing the smokeless industry of many countries to face the opportunity to explode and become one of the main growth drivers of the economy.
The Chinese market is expected to prosper thanks to the visa exemption policy for citizens of many European countries until the end of November 2024. In Europe, the expected participation of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen Free Travel Area, along with France's hosting of the Summer Olympics in July and August are also the levers to promote the strong development of the tourism industry in the Old Continent.
Meanwhile, Schengen tourist visa is an important step in efforts to make tourism and services the mainstay of Gulf economies in the post-oil era. UNWTO affirms that, with the above potential, this year, international tourism can return to a vibrant period like before the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly even growing by 2% compared to 2019 levels.
In the context that the global economy faces many challenges and is vulnerable to crises or geopolitical fluctuations, the steady development of the tourism industry can become a fulcrum to promote economic growth and stabilise the job market.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that the tourism industry is growing more than twice as fast as the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to WTTC's forecast, by 2033, travel is set to become a 15.5 trillion USD industry — accounting for more than 11.6% of the global economy and creating jobs for 430 million people around the world.
Although the tourism industry has positive development prospects, the recovery process still faces significant challenges due to geopolitical risks. Tensions in Ukraine and the risk of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas movement spreading in the Middle East could cause the smokeless industry to suffer a lot of damage.
In addition, the shortage of human resources is also a difficult problem when human resources do not meet the needs of businesses during the recovery period, especially regarding highly qualified employees.
In order for the tourism industry to continue to make a breakthrough in the coming time, experts are calling on governments to speed up the visa application process to further support international tourism.
In addition, WTTC believes that the key to the future of tourism is to promote more sustainable tourism practices, ensuring that cultural heritage, local traditions, and the environment are preserved from one generation to the next.