By Dion Henrick

Cape Town, South Africa Bureau — ARRIVALS in Africa have almost doubled over the past year as tourism recovers at a strong pace globally.

International tourism recorded a 182 percent year-on-year increase in January-March 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in the same period in 2021.

This is according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO) World Tourism Barometer, showing that the recovery is gathering pace.

Europe welcomed almost four times as many international arrivals (+280 percent) as in the first quarter of 2021.

However, arrivals in Europe and the Americas were still 43 percent and 46 percent below 2019 levels respectively.

The Middle East (+132 percent) and Africa (+96 percent) also saw strong growth in quarter one 2022 compared to 2021, but arrivals remained 59 percent and 61 percent below 2019 respectively.

Asia and the Pacific recorded a 64 percent increase over 2021. Again, levels were 93 percent below 2019 numbers as several destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Although international tourism remains 61 percent below 2019 levels, the gradual recovery is expected to continue throughout 2022.

This as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions and pent-up demand is unleashed.

Despite the positive prospects, a challenging economic environment coupled with the military offensive of the Russian Federation in Ukraine pose a downside risk to the ongoing recovery.

The latest UNWTO Tourism Barometer also shows that US$1 billion were lost in export revenues from international tourism in 2021, adding to the $1 billion lost in the first year of the pandemic.

Total export revenues from tourism (including passenger transport receipts) reached an estimated $713 billion in 2021.

This is a 4-percent increase in real terms from 2020 but still 61 percent below 2019 levels.

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