MADRID — International tourist arrivals tripled in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2021, with Europe leading the rebound as COVID-19 restrictions were eased, the UN's tourism agency said Monday.
In the first three months of 2022, there were 117 million global tourist arrivals, up from 41 million in the same period a year earlier, with the figures showing an increase of 182 percent, the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said.
Although the figure remained 61 percent lower than the first quarter of 2019, a year before the pandemic, it showed tourism was continuing to recover "at a strong pace" as "restrictions ease and confidence returns," it said.
"Of the extra 76 million international arrivals for the first three months, about 47 million were recorded in March, showing that the recovery is gathering pace."
The increase was particularly notable in Europe, which welcomed almost four times as many arrivals as in 2021, an increase of 280 percent.
Strong growth was also seen in the Americas, where arrivals more than doubled (up 117 percent) and in the Middle East, up 132 percent.
"The gradual recovery is expected to continue throughout 2022, as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions and pent-up demand is unleashed," the agency said, pointing to "a significant increase in flight reservations."
By June 2, 45 destinations (two thirds of which were in Europe) no longer had COVID-related restrictions in place, while in Asia, an increasing number of destinations had begun easing restrictions.
However, the UNWTO retained a prudent outlook for the coming months, given the risks linked to the "challenging economic environment" and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"The Russian offensive on Ukraine seems to have had a limited direct impact on overall results so far," it said.
But it was having "major economic repercussions globally" by exacerbating fuel and energy costs "which results in higher transport and accommodation costs for the tourism sector" that could weigh on the sector's recovery, it warned. — Agence France-Presse