Int'l tourism recovers, but nowhere near pre-pandemic levels: UN agency

MADRID, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- International tourism has continued to show signs of recovery, but is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Monday.

Travelers are seen at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, on March 15, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)

According to the latest World Tourism Barometer published by the Madrid-based agency, an estimated 474 million tourists traveled internationally in the first seven months of this year, equivalent to 57 percent of the number of international tourist arrivals in the same period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strongest recovery was reported in Europe and the Middle East, with arrivals at 74 percent and 76 percent of 2019 levels respectively.

Though "cautiously optimistic" for the remainder of 2022, the UN agency believes the "uncertain economic environment" has "reversed prospects for a return to pre-pandemic levels in the near term."

This is mainly due to rising inflation and the spike in oil prices, which have caused higher transport and accommodation costs and put consumer purchasing power and savings under pressure, said the UN agency.