After what many have considered to be the worst crisis in the history of the travel industry, the world has once again opened its doors to tourism, this time enforcing new policies and initiatives to ensure that the road to recovery is as fast and smooth as possible.
As nearly four years have elapsed since the start of travel restrictions, it’s clear that tourism has yet to return to its previous glory.
One interesting fact to note, though, is that while most of the world is still playing catch-up, there’s one surprising region that has surpassed its 2019 tourism levels by over 20%.
The Region That’s Outperforming All Other Global Destinations
A brand new report released by The United Nations World Tourism Organization shed some light on how the world’s most visited regions are performing in comparison to their pre-pandemic tourism numbers.
Here’s the breakdown of each region’s recovery rate:
- Asia and the Pacific – 61%
- Americas – 87%
- Europe – 91%
- Africa – 92%
In what was probably the most surprising turn of events, The Middle East established itself as the fastest-growing region in the world by a large margin.
Not only did it climb back to pre-pandemic tourism levels, but it actually surpassed them by 20%, showing only signs of further growth from this point on.
Here’s how the Middle East managed to outperform the rest of the world:
Middle Eastern Destinations Are Breaking Tourism Records
While summer getaways in the Caribbean and city breaks in Europe are still part of every traveler’s bucket list, the trendiest destinations that have taken the travel industry by storm are actually located in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan are some of the region’s most coveted hotspots.
Be it the natural wonders, world-class cuisine, or rich cultural heritage, tourists are eager to discover more of this once-overlooked region.
Turkey, in particular, is following a wildly successful summer, with fall predictions being just as optimistic.
Having visited Istanbul just a few months back, I can attest to the region’s unparalleled charm firsthand.
Between the Blue Mosque, Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahçe Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and dozens more stunning attractions to choose from, it’s important to go in with a well-thought-out itinerary.
The food here is also some of the best you’ll ever try, and cheap, too. A hearty breakfast tray for two people will only set you back $8.5 – $15.5, depending on location.
The Middle East as a whole is especially known for boasting some of the most breathtaking mosques in the world. If you do enter one, though, make sure to dress accordingly – shoulders, knees, and chest must all be covered, and women need to wear a headscarf.
For women who don’t have their heads covered or are wearing overly tight attire (e.g., leggings or skirts), a scarf or wrap will be provided at the entrance.
Another Middle Eastern hotspot that continues to follow a meteoric rise in popularity is Dubai.
While history buffs will have a far better time in Egypt or Israel, for example, there’s still something about Dubai and its splendid atmosphere that keeps tourists coming back for more.
If you want your jaw to drop in awe, make sure to plan a visit to Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, and the Dubai Fountain. This is also the perfect setting for adventure-seekers looking to dive, swim with dolphins, or paraglide.
Why The Middle East?
While it’s clear that The Middle East boasts some of the world’s most stunning destinations, there’s no shortage of lively cities, natural wonders, or scrumptious cuisines on Earth. So, what makes this region stand out?
For starters, the wide array of attractions you’ll find here cater to all types of travelers.
Those who want to revel in history will treasure a trip to Egypt, those who want to see some of the world’s most gorgeous natural wonders will love Jordan, and those who want to immerse themselves in a world of outdoor adventures will feel right at home in Saudi Arabia.
The region has also made conscious efforts when it comes to improving infrastructure, hosting trendy international events, and, more importantly, ensuring all tourists feel welcomed and safe.
Another interesting finding by UNWTO was the fact that, on average, all regions exceeded their recovery predictions.
2023 has been a wildly successful year for tourism all over the world. After years of being stuck at home, travelers are finally getting a chance to catch up on all their missed adventures.
With that in mind, it’s safe to say that the pandemic downturn will soon be overcome, and if current growth rates continue to maintain their momentum, we’ll be looking at a whole new set of all-time tourism records next year.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com