International Tourism Significantly Rebounds
International tourism is well on its way to returning to pre-pandemic levels, with twice as many people traveling during the first quarter of 2023 than in the same period of 2022, reported the U.N. World Tourism Organization.
The second UNWTO World Tourism Barometer published on May 9, 2023, shows that the international travel sector's recovery has continued into 2023. It shows that:
Overall, international arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2023. An estimated 235 million tourists traveled internationally in the first three months, more than double the same period in 2022.
And during the early months of 2023, the Middle East saw the most robust performance as the only region exceeding 2019 arrivals (+15%) and the first to recover pre-pandemic numbers in an entire quarter.
The UNWTO data also analyses recovery by sub-region and destination.
Southern Mediterranean Europe and North Africa have also recovered pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2023, while Western Europe, Northern Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean all came close to reaching those levels.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili commented in a press release, "The start of the year has shown again tourism's unique ability to bounce back. In many places, we are close to or even above pre-pandemic arrivals levels."
"However, we must remain alert to challenges ranging from geopolitical insecurity, staffing shortages, and the potential impact of the cost-of-living crisis on tourism."
In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported on May 30, 2023; airport screening activity was similar to 2019.
Moreover, the TSA is handling the increased activity very well.
In April 2023, 89% of TSA PreCheck® passengers waited less than 5 minutes during the screening process.
"TSA is ready to handle this summer's anticipated increase in travel. In addition, our staffing levels are better, largely due to better pay for all TSA employees, which starts on July 1," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a press release on May 22, 2023.
"For passengers, this will mean better overall staffing for all of TSA's activities that support secure and efficient travel and an improved passenger experience."
"In addition, our strong partnerships with airports and airlines will ensure we can anticipate and respond to changes in passenger travel throughout the summer."
"Passengers can also help by being prepared and having their identification ready when screening and checking to ensure they aren't bringing firearms, oversized liquids, or any other prohibited item into the checkpoint."
"One person's actions can delay screening for everyone else."
From a health perspective, the U.S. CDC has published several travel advisories in 2023 for vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks such as dengue, polio, and yellow fever.
For example, forty-seven countries in Africa, Central, and South America are either endemic to or have regions endemic to yellow fever, and many require proof of vaccination before arrival.