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Tourism set to return to pre-pandemic levels in some regions — UNWTO

By Maria Diamond
21 January 2023   |   5:26 am
After stronger than expected recovery in 2022, this year could see international tourist arrivals return to pre-pandemic levels in Europe and the Middle East. Tourists are nonetheless expected to increasingly seek value for money and travel...

Zurab Pololikashvili

After stronger than expected recovery in 2022, this year could see international tourist arrivals return to pre-pandemic levels in Europe and the Middle East. Tourists are nonetheless expected to increasingly seek value for money and travel closer to home in response to the challenging economic climate.

Based on UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios for 2023, international tourist arrivals could reach 80 per cent to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels this year, depending on the extent of the economic slowdown, the ongoing recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific and the evolution of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, among other factors.

According to new data UNWTO, more than 900 million tourists travelled internationally in 2022 – double the number recorded in 2021 though still 63 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Every global region recorded notable increases in international tourist numbers. The Middle East enjoyed the strongest relative increase as arrivals climbed to 83 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers. Europe reached nearly 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels as it welcomed 585 million arrivals in 2022. Africa and the Americas both recovered about 65 per cent of their pre-pandemic visitors, while Asia and the Pacific reached only 23 per cent, due to stronger pandemic-related restrictions, which have started to be removed only in recent months.

The first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of 2023 also analyses performance by region and looks at top performers in 2022, including several destinations, which have already recovered 2019 levels.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “A new year brings more reason for optimism for global tourism. UNWTO anticipates a strong year for the sector even in the face of diverse challenges including the economic situation and continued geopolitical uncertainty. Economic factors may influence how people travel in 2023 and UNWTO expects demand for domestic and regional travel to remain strong and help drive the sector’s wider recovery.”

However, UNWTO foresees the recovery to continue throughout 2023, even as the sector faces up to economic, health and geopolitical challenges. The recent lifting of COVID-19 related travel restrictions in China, the world’s largest outbound market in 2019, is a significant step for the recovery of the tourism sector in Asia and the Pacific and worldwide.

In the short term, the resumption of travel from China is likely to benefit Asian destinations in particular. Nevertheless, this will be shaped by the availability and cost of air travel, visa regulations and COVID-19 related restrictions in the destinations. By mid-January a total of 32 countries had imposed specific travel restrictions related to travel from China, mostly in Asia and Europe. At the same time, strong demand from the United States, backed by a strong US dollar, will continue to benefit destinations in the region and beyond. Europe will continue to enjoy strong travel flows from the US, partly due to a weaker euro versus the US dollar.
  
Emirates Expands To Mainland China, Resumes Operations To Shanghai, Beijing

IN response to strong travel demand, Emirates is ramping up its operations in China ahead of the New Lunar Year, thereby boosting connectivity to its gateways; Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

The development follows the country’s reopening of its borders and the easing of its COVID-related entry restrictions. Based on this, Emirates will resume passenger services to Shanghai starting with two weekly flights operated by an Airbus A380 aircraft from January 20, 2023, with EK302 departing from Dubai to Shanghai non-stop and EK303 making a short stop in Bangkok before returning to Dubai.

This service will ramp up in frequency to four weekly flights operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from 02 February 2023. During this period, Emirates’ flight EK302 will depart Dubai at 03:45hrs and arrive in Shanghai at 15:40hrs. The return flight EK303 will depart Shanghai at 17:40hrs and arrive in Bangkok at 21:45hrs before taking off from the Thai capital at 23:20hrs and arriving in Dubai at 03:20hrs the next day.

Emirates will further boost its Dubai-Shanghai route from March 1, 2023 with a daily non-stop service. Its flight EK304 will depart Dubai at 09:15hrs and arrive in Shanghai at 21:05hrs. The return flight EK303 will leave Shanghai at 23:00hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:20hrs the next day.

Commencing from February 1, 2023, the airline will increase services between Dubai and Guangzhou with EK362/EK363 operating as daily non-stop flights with the flagship Emirates A380. Its flight EK362 will leave Dubai at 10:45hrs and arrive in Guangzhou at 21:45hrs. The return flight EK363 will depart Guangzhou at 00:15hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:15hrs. Emirates currently operate a non-stop flight from Dubai to Guangzhou as EK362, and a return flight from Guangzhou to Dubai via Bangkok as EK363, four times a week.

Operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, Emirates’ flight EK308/ EK307 will return to China’s capital city Beijing with a daily non-stop service from Dubai, starting from 15 March 2023. Emirates’ flight EK308 will leave Dubai at 10:50hrs and arrive in Beijing at 22:20hrs. The return flight EK307 will depart Beijing at 00:40hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:00hrs.

This will bring the airline’s operations in the market up to 21 weekly flights, providing increased choice and flexibility for both business and leisure travellers, and contributing to China’s tourism recovery. Tickets can be booked on emirates.com, the Emirates App, or via travel agents. Travellers are also encouraged to check the latest entry requirements.

Emirates has been serving China for nearly two decades and has established its presence in the Chinese market through strategic partnerships and a continued commitment to the local community throughout the pandemic. Emirates offers travellers increased connectivity to 24 domestic points via Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, as well as six regional points via Guangzhou through its partnership with China Southern Airline, while simultaneously providing its partner-airline’s customers access to six destinations within the Middle East and Africa regions.

Travellers can also benefit from Emirates’ existing interline agreements with Air China, China Eastern and Cathay Pacific to access even more domestic Chinese cities.

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