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Surging Q3 travel numbers boosting overall global arrivals this year

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • There have been roughly 700 million international arrivals in the first nine months of 2022, which represents a +133% increase over the same period last year
  • Nearly half of all international travel happened in the third quarter, from July through September, with overall demand patterns heavily influenced by travellers within Europe and from the US
  • Overall travel volumes are expected to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reports that the recovery of global travel volumes has accelerated throughout 2022. An estimated total of 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September this year – a benchmark that more than doubles (+133%) the international arrivals for the same period in 2021.

Those 700 million traveller also represent about 63% of pre-pandemic travel volumes, and leads the UNWTO to project that global travel will reach 65% of 2019 levels by the end of this year.

The recovery in international travel clearly took hold in the third quarter of this year (July through September). In January, travel levels were still -64% below pre-COVID volumes, but that gap had shrunk to -27% by September 2022.

The improving trend is underpinned by an estimated 340 million international arrivals in the third quarter alone, or roughly half of the year-to-date total. Another important factor this year has been Europe, which accounted for nearly 500 million international arrivals all by itself. This represents more than 80% of pre-COVID arrivals in Europe, and more than double the European travel numbers from the year prior.

“Europe saw particularly robust performance in Q3, when arrivals reached almost 90% of 2019 levels,” notes the UNWTO. “Results [were] boosted by strong intra-regional demand and travel from the United States.”

Alongside that impressive trajectory, however, the UNWTO has also sounded a more cautious note for the final quarter of the year. “The challenging economic environment, including persistently high inflation and soaring energy prices, aggravated by the Russian offensive in Ukraine, could weigh on the pace of recovery in Q4 and into 2023. Despite growing challenges pointing to a softening of the recovery pace, export revenues from tourism could reach US$1.2 to 1.3 trillion in 2022, a 60-70% increase over 2021, or 70-80% of the US$1.8 trillion recorded in 2019.”

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