The travel data company analyzed destinations, based not on the total number of passengers, but on the amount tourism has grown since 2019 — prior to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when tourism was at similar levels.
According to the analysis, the top-performing country was the Dominican Republic, and the top city was Antalya in Turkey.
Between Jan. and Oct., the Dominican Republic welcomed 5% more visitors than it did in 2019. This was followed by Turkey, Costa Rica and Mexico, which all welcomed the same number of visitors.
International tourist arrivals: 2019 vs 2022 (Credit: FowardKeys air ticket data)
Here are the top 10 countries that performed best in 2022:
- Dominican Republic (+5%)
- Turkey (0%)
- Costa Rica (0%)
- Mexico (0%)
- Jamaica (-5%)
- Pakistan (-5%)
- Bangladesh (-8%)
- Greece (-12%)
- Egypt (-15%)
- Portugal (-16%)
ForwardKeys noted that the strong representation of Central American and Caribbean destinations towards the top of the list reflects the strength of the U.S. outbound travel market. They also said countries in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico imposed less severe COVID-19 restrictions than other countries, which may have contributed to the results.
Picture taken at a beach in the Dominican seaside resort of Punta Cana, which are closed to the public due to the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, on April 9, 2020. - Beaches are out of bounds and and it is forbidden to travel to any city in the co
Despite Europe’s tighter travel restrictions, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it did not cause as much decline as one may have expected. Travel to Europe, especially Greece, Portugal, Turkey and Iceland held up well.
Among the top destination cities, Antalya, the largest city on the Turkish riviera, welcomed 66% more visitors than it did in the equivalent period in 2019. It was followed by San Jose Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Punta Cana.
"Looking at the world on a regional basis, one must admire Caribbean countries for their early efforts to sustain visitor arrivals in the face of the pandemic and their continued growth in an increasingly competitive travel landscape," Olivier Ponti, the vice president of Insights at ForwardKeys, said. "The Middle East also stands out, as it has helped to accelerate its recovery by hosting major global events such as the Dubai World Expo, Formula One grand prix in various Gulf locations and, above all, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Gulf has also seen a relatively robust comeback in business travel, a segment whose recent revival has come as a surprise to many."
The results reveal that most countries ranked high, not because they had more tourists in 2019, but because they didn’t lose as many visitors, which suggests the travel economy may still be recovering during the ongoing pandemic.