Love them or hate them, tourists are back.
As Visual Capitalists' Pallavi Rao and Marcus Lu show in the graphic below, global tourism has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels according to data sourced from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Report (2023)
They visualize monthly arrivals of foreign visitors to various regions, indexed to December 2019 levels.
Europe Leads as Destination for Resurging Tourism
Having been the first industry to suffer almost immediately from COVID-19 required lockdowns and border closures, global tourism has been on a steady recovery in the last year and a half.
In fact, Europe was the first region to get back to pre-pandemic levels in April–May 2022, with the U.S. nearly approaching the mark in July that same year.
In the tables below we showcase the relative scale of monthly arrivals of foreign visitors to various regions, indexed to Dec 2019 levels. Figures below 100 mean there were fewer foreign arrivals than December 2019, and vice-versa.
Latin America also hit pre-pandemic levels of tourists in June 2022 and then again in April 2023.
One major exception to the recovery is Asia (excluding China), which was at 90.8% of 2019 levels as of April 2023. As it happens, the lack of Chinese tourists—due to China’s prolonged period of COVID-19 lockdowns—are likely a major factor for Asia’s slower tourism recovery.
Rising Chinese income levels has made the country the world’s largest source of tourists. For example, in 2019 (pre-COVID), China ranked first in terms of outbound tourism spending, at $255 billion.
Airlines Passenger Share Mirrors Tourism Trends
Consequently, the airline industry of these regions has also seen correlating gains and losses in traffic. European airlines had the highest share of passenger traffic, followed by the U.S. in 2022. At the same time all four of China’s largest airlines saw a fall in traffic.
Meanwhile the outlook on the Chinese economy (second largest in the world) remains uncertain at best, which is casting a pall on global growth prospects for the next year.