International tourism made 63% of its pre-virus level in 2022 despite doubling from a year ago, according to the UN tourism agency.
A total of 917 million tourists traveled internationally last year, up 101.6% from the previous year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) data showed on Tuesday.
All regions posted a rise in international tourist figures, with the Middle East enjoying the largest improvement, reaching 83% of the pre-COVID levels.
Tourist arrivals to the region jumped 144.4% year-on-year in 2022 thanks to hosting events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as a highly attended Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
With 585 million tourist arrivals in 2022, Europe made 80% of its pre-virus level.
Africa and the Americas both recovered nearly 65% of their pre-virus visitors, while Asia and the Pacific made only 23% due to COVID-related mobility restrictions.
International tourist arrivals are projected to reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year, with Europe and the Middle East expected to reach those levels.
While the UNWTO expects China's lifting COVID-19 restrictions would benefit Asian destinations, in particular in the short run depending on the availability and cost of air travel, visa regulations and COVID-related restrictions in the destinations.
It recalled that in mid-January a total of 32 countries imposed specific travel restrictions related to travel from China, mostly in Asia and Europe.
Solid travel demand from the US with the backing of a strong greenback is projected to continue boosting travel flows to Europe.
Source: Anadolu Agency