The latest Travel Quarterly Statement reveals that travel and tourism continue to power on through their recovery. However, dark clouds are gathering as recession looms in advanced markets and growth slows in China. Yet the reopening of China’s borders is welcome relief, finally free of its zero-COVID-19 policy despite cases rising and new restrictions put in place for Chinese travellers. Despite controversy, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was a success for sport and travel to the Middle East.
This report comes in PPT.
The speed of recovery noted in the Q4 2022 forecast is even stronger than predicted in the previous quarter. Inbound tourism spending recorded an impressive growth rate of 122% in 2022, fuelled by strong pent-up consumer demand, combined with the ramping up of capacity. The outlook for 2023 also looks bright, albeit with a slower pace of growth as recession looms. The effects of the war in Ukraine also continue to take their toll, with high fuel and food prices.
The return of Chinese visitors is a major turning point in the global travel recovery. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, China accounted for around 100 million visitors annually, and this has been a much missed source of demand since 2020, not just in Asia Pacific but around the world. With the end of the country’s zero-COVID policy and the opening of borders to international travel from 8 January 2023, China is back, with the promise of enormous spending power from “revenge travel”.
The pandemic has entered the endemic stage in Asia Pacific, with the region having been slower off the blocks in opening up during the pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions are, however, being reinstated in certain destinations, like Japan, as Chinese visitors are once again on the move. India and the Maldives are ahead of the curve when it comes to recovery to pre-pandemic levels.
The US dollar reached record highs in 2022, with its strength expected to carry over into 2023, as the currency is seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty. This bodes well for continuing strong US outbound tourism demand, particularly for Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. There is, however, a risk of recession, which would scupper the growth prospects for tourism, as US consumers tighten their belts and holiday closer to home.
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