Global Tourism Surges With 285 Million Travellers in Q1 2024

International Tourism Reaches 97% of Pre-Pandemic Levels in Q1 2024

Tourism in the Serengeti, Tanzania
Image/ David Clode

The latest data from the UNWTO shows a significant rebound in international travel, with global arrivals reaching 97% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2024.

UN Tourism reports more than 285 million tourists travelled internationally in January-March 2024, about 20% more than the first quarter of 2023.

Highlights by Region – Africa

Africa has exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 5% in the first quarter of 2024. This follows a strong 2023, where Africa saw a 13% increase compared to the same period the previous year.  


By subregions, North Africa saw the strongest performance in Q1 2024 with 23% more international arrivals than before the pandemic, while Subsaharan Africa recovered 95%.

Tanzania at 53% has been noted as one of the top destinations globally which continued to achieve strong recovery results in Q1 2024, according to available data.


International tourism receipts reached USD 1.5 trillion in 2023, meaning a complete recovery of pre-pandemic levels in nominal terms, but 97% in real terms, adjusting for inflation.

Africa recovered 95% of its pre-pandemic earnings in 2023 – and achieved remarkable results in terms of receipts in the first quarter of 2024 as compared to 2019 levels based on available data, including Tanzania (+62%), Mauritius (+46%) and Morocco (+44%).

Looking Ahead

The UNWTO expects a full recovery for international tourism in 2024, backed by factors like:

  • Strong Demand: Pent-up travel desires and increased travel budgets.
  • Improved Air Connectivity: More flight options for easier travel.
  • Recovery in Asia: Particularly China, a major source market for many destinations.

Challenges Remain

Despite the positive outlook, the UN Tourism Panel of Experts outlines some headwinds that persist:

  • Economic Factors: Inflation, high interest rates, and volatile oil prices could impact travel costs. IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (April 2024) points to a steady but slow economic recovery, though mixed by region.
  • Geopolitical Tensions: Ongoing conflicts (Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Hamas-Israel conflict) can create uncertainty for travellers.

Confidence Index

The most recent UN Tourism Confidence Index suggests optimistic outlooks for the upcoming summer season, scoring 130 for the period from May to August 2024 (on a scale of 0 to 200).

UN Tourism forecasts a full recovery for international tourism in 2024, potentially exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 2%.