The future looks bright – The radical recovery of 2023

11 December, 2023
#Industry News

The future looks bright – The radical recovery of 2023

End-of-year statistics unveiled by the World Tourism Organization and Swiss Education Group's International Recruitment Forum, reveal a remarkable resurgence and promising future for tourism and for our students.

By Swiss Education Group

4 minutes
Students learn about tourism jobs


In the words of UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, "The latest UNWTO data shows that international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 with many destinations reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals and receipts. This is critical for destinations, businesses, and communities where the sector is a major lifeline."

As we reflect on these words and the promising end-of-year statistics unveiled by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it becomes evident that the hospitality industry is experiencing a remarkable resurgence. International tourism has recovered 90% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, showcasing an industry that not only survived the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic but emerged even stronger, validating the comment by Mr. Leo Wang, CEO of Swiss Education Group, during World Tourism Day 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

It is interesting to note that the industry didn’t just recover from COVID, it rebounded and came back stronger!"

This sentiment captures the essence of the hospitality sector's journey through adversity, evolving into a force to be reckoned with.

At Swiss Education Group’s International Recruitment Forum (IRF) in spring of 2023, there was nearly a sense of shock at the large attendance by recruiters and the number of jobs available to students after three very somber years. At that first IRF of 2023, according to Antonia Vollet, Employer Relations Director, there was no shortage of opportunities for the students; the jobs available at the spring IRF outnumbered the students by five to one.

Mrs. Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director of UNWTO, emphasized the significance of tourism in the global economy, stating, "Tourism is 4.2 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and comprises 1 of every 10 jobs." This underscores the immense impact the hospitality sector has on both economic growth and job creation. It is a testament to the industry's resilience and its role as a pillar of support for countless individuals and communities worldwide.

International tourism has witnessed an impressive recovery, with an estimated 975 million tourists traveling internationally between January and September 2023, marking a 38% increase compared to the same months in 2022. The UNWTO's World Tourism Barometer reveals even more encouraging trends:

  • Strong Recovery: World destinations welcomed 22% more international tourists in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the same period the previous year, driven by a robust Northern Hemisphere summer season.
  • Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels: International tourist arrivals reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter, with July being the standout month at 92%, the best performance since the pandemic began.
  • Continued Progress: Overall, tourism has reclaimed 87% of pre-pandemic levels in January-September 2023, setting the stage for a potential 90% recovery by year-end.
  • Revenue Growth: International tourism receipts are predicted to reach USD 1.4 trillion in 2023, representing approximately 93% of the USD 1.5 trillion earned by destinations in 2019.

The Middle East, Europe, and Africa are spearheading this recovery:

  • Middle East: This region continues to lead the recovery, with arrivals exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 20% in the nine months through September 2023. Visa facilitation measures, investments in new tourism-related projects, and the hosting of large events have all contributed to this remarkable performance.
  • Europe: As the world's largest destination region, Europe welcomed 550 million international tourists during this period, representing 94% of pre-pandemic levels. Robust intra-regional demand and strong demand from the United States have played a pivotal role in this rebound.
  • Africa: Africa, too, has made significant strides, recovering 92% of pre-pandemic visitors in the nine-month period. The Americas, particularly benefiting from strong US demand, reached 88% of 2019 numbers during this period.
  • Asia and the Pacific: While this region reached 62% of pre-pandemic levels in this period, the performance varies among subregions. South Asia, with its impressive recovery rate of 95%, contrasts with North-East Asia, which has achieved only about 50% of its pre-pandemic levels due to slower reopening to international travel.

In light of these positive developments, it is evident that the hospitality industry is not only bouncing back from the challenges posed by the pandemic but is also poised for unprecedented growth. The statistics speak for themselves, reaffirming the opening words of UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili about the critical role of tourism in destinations, businesses, and communities.

In addition, the WEO report highlights a crucial point: tourism is a key sector for economic growth. Economies with "large travel and tourism sectors" have displayed remarkable resilience and strong economic activity. In particular, countries where tourism contributes significantly to GDP have rebounded faster from the pandemic's impact compared to economies where tourism is not a major sector.

As the report's foreword notes, "Strong demand for services has supported service-oriented economies, including important tourism destinations such as France and Spain." This underscores the symbiotic relationship between tourism and economic growth, where the prosperity of one reinforces the other.

Looking ahead, the latest outlook from the IMF dovetails with UNWTO's analysis of tourism prospects at the global and regional levels. According to the November 2023 World Tourism Barometer, international tourism reached 87% of pre-pandemic levels in September 2023. Prospects for September-December 2023 point to continued recovery, driven by pent-up demand and increased air connectivity, especially in Asia and the Pacific, where recovery is still unfolding.

The future of the hospitality sector aligns with the global economic outlook. According to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) Report, the global economy is projected to 2.9% in 2024 after a similar growth in 2023. While these figures are higher than previous forecasts, they remain slightly below the 3.5% growth rate recorded in 2022, indicative of global political situations and the current cost-of-living crisis.

These global numbers are indeed impressive and promising, but those of Swiss Education Group are nearly shocking. The number of jobs available to students at the IRF from 2017 to 2023 has skyrocketed from an average of 1000 job postings per year from 2017-2019, to over 6,000 in 2023.

The future looks bright for hospitality students
The future looks bright for hospitality students.

These numbers, globally and internally, project a very bright future for our students with abundant career opportunities and a trajectory of growth that few other sectors can match.

As the world embarks on a journey of recovery and resurgence, Swiss Education Group is proud to equip our students, across all of our schools, to contribute to and shape the future of an industry that touches the lives of billions across the globe. The story of hospitality is one of resilience, adaptability, and a bright future that beckons us all, intricately interwoven with the broader tapestry of global economic growth.

Are you interested in a career with a strong future and the opportunity work anywhere in the world? To learn more about our schools, download a brochure.

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By Swiss Education Group