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Charted: Global Tourism Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels

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A time series chart showing the number of foreign visitors across regions, indexed to December 2019 levels, indicating global tourism has rebounded.

Charted: Global Tourism Rebounds to 2019 Levels

Love them or hate them, tourists are back.

Global tourism has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels according to data sourced from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Report (2023)

We visualize monthly arrivals of foreign visitors to various regions, indexed to December 2019 levels.

Europe Leads as Destination for Resurging Tourism

Having been the first industry to suffer almost immediately from COVID-19 required lockdowns and border closures, global tourism has been on a steady recovery in the last year and a half.

In fact, Europe was the first region to get back to pre-pandemic levels in April–May 2022, with the U.S. nearly approaching the mark in July that same year.

In the tables below we showcase the relative scale of monthly arrivals of foreign visitors to various regions, indexed to Dec 2019 levels. Figures below 100 mean there were fewer foreign arrivals than December 2019, and vice-versa.

Year/MonthSouthern EuropeRest of EuropeU.S.
Dec 201572.482.2111.1
Dec 201680.587.0107.9
Dec 201782.792.6108.8
Dec 201891.896.0100.6
Dec 2019100.0100.0100.0
Dec 202026.413.715.9
Dec 202173.650.146.9
Dec 202295.297.168.1
April 2023117.2121.897.8

Latin America also hit pre-pandemic levels of tourists in June 2022 and then again in April 2023.

One major exception to the recovery is Asia (excluding China), which was at 90.8% of 2019 levels as of April 2023. As it happens, the lack of Chinese tourists—due to China’s prolonged period of COVID-19 lockdowns—are likely a major factor for Asia’s slower tourism recovery.

Year/MonthLatin America &
the Caribbean
Asia (ex-China)Rest of World
Dec 201582.998.1101.7
Dec 201692.1103.3105.5
Dec 201797.4108.1104.5
Dec 201897.1115.0102.7
Dec 2019100.0100.0100.0
Dec 202049.3-0.48.1
Dec 202176.92.221.0
Dec 202290.349.264.4
April 2023102.590.886.6

Rising Chinese income levels has made the country the world’s largest source of tourists. For example, in 2019 (pre-COVID), China ranked first in terms of outbound tourism spending, at $255 billion.

Airlines Passenger Share Mirrors Tourism Trends

Consequently, the airline industry of these regions has also seen correlating gains and losses in traffic. European airlines had the highest share of passenger traffic, followed by the U.S. in 2022. At the same time all four of China’s largest airlines saw a fall in traffic.

Meanwhile the outlook on the Chinese economy (second largest in the world) remains uncertain at best, which is casting a pall on global growth prospects for the next year.

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The World’s Most Powerful Passports in 2024

The most powerful passports have changed over the last decade, driven by political and economic factors. Here are the top 30 worldwide.

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The World’s Most Powerful Passports in 2024

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

People around the world enjoy significantly greater travel freedom than they did just a couple decades ago.

In 2006, people could travel visa-free to 58 countries on average, while today that number has jumped to 111 destinations. Even in the last year, French, German, Spanish, and Italian citizens can now travel visa-free to three new countries.

This graphic shows the most powerful passports in 2024, with data from the annual Henley & Partners Passport Index.

Passport Strength in 2024

The world’s top passport is shared in a six-way tie, with visa-free access to 194 countries.

RankingCountryNumber of Countries
with Visa-Free Access
1🇫🇷 France194
1🇩🇪 Germany194
1🇮🇹 Italy194
1🇯🇵 Japan194
1🇸🇬 Singapore194
1🇪🇸 Spain194
2🇫🇮 Finland193
2🇰🇷 South Korea193
2🇸🇪 Sweden193
3🇦🇹 Austria192
3🇩🇰 Denmark192
3🇮🇪 Ireland192
3🇳🇱 Netherlands192
4🇧🇪 Belgium191
4🇱🇺 Luxembourg191
4🇳🇴 Norway191
4🇵🇹 Portugal191
4🇬🇧 UK191
5🇬🇷 Greece190
5🇲🇹 Malta190
5🇨🇭 Switzerland190
6🇦🇺 Australia189
6🇨🇿 Czechia189
6🇳🇿 New Zealand189
6🇵🇱 Poland189
7🇨🇦 Canada188
7🇭🇺 Hungary188
7🇺🇸 U.S.188
8🇪🇪 Estonia187
8🇱🇹 Lithuania187

While Japan and Singapore ranked first for the last five years, four European countries—France, Germany, Italy, and Spain— climbed the ranks this year.

This comes as China granted visa-free access to these European countries and 50 other nations in efforts to revive tourism in a post-pandemic era. This follows a broader trend of countries waiving visas to encourage travel and boost economic activity. In the last eight years, for instance, both Germany and Singapore were granted visa-free travel to 35 new countries.

Finland, Sweden, and South Korea tie for second place in the rankings. In fact, the latter country has one of the highest numbers of visa waiver agreements in the world.

The U.S. ranks in seventh, one of its worst relative rankings ever. Over the last decade, its standing has fallen in rank given diplomatic tensions and its relative lack of openness to foreign tourists. For example, Brazil recently removed visa-free access to U.S. citizens for reciprocity reasons—the U.S. requires Brazilians to have a visa to travel to the country.

From a regional perspective, 23 of the top 30 passports are in Europe and the UK, three are in Asia, while two are in both North America and Oceania.

Changes Ahead

After many years in the works, U.S. travelers will need a visa to travel to Europe in 2025.

In most cases, applications should be processed in minutes, but some may take as long as a few weeks. Travelers in Canada, Mexico, and South America will also be required to fill out the application. The good news is that the visa will be valid for three years or the date a passport expires, depending on which one happens first.

By contrast, Indonesia is discussing allowing visa-free access to 20 countries to encourage tourism and investment in the country. It is the second Asian nation after Singapore that is eyeing visa waivers to China. Recently, Thailand and Malaysia have provided the world’s second-largest economy visa-free access thanks to its role as a key driver of tourism in these countries.

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