PARIS, France: According to projections and interviews by the Associated Press in 11 countries, tourism officials have said they expect the ongoing tourism rebound to be less like a definitive bounce, 'and more like a bumpy path out of a deep and dark cave.'
Some regions, like the French Riviera and the American Midwest, are contributing to the tourism recovery more than others, such as China, which was the world's leading source of tourists before the pandemic, but is still discouraging travel with its "Zero-COVID" policy.
The human drive to get out and explore is helping fuel the ascent, packing flights and tourist sites, despite rising coronavirus infections and inflation.
The tourism sector, considered the main driver of the recovery, was worth $3.5 trillion in 2019, and officials estimate it lost that much during the pandemic, according to the United Nations.
According to some estimates, the tourism sector provides work for one in 10 people worldwide.
Areas that have loosened restrictions are looking forward to a busy summer.
While visiting Amsterdam, Pittsburgh resident Theresa Starta, 52, said, "They are saying it is the summer of revenge travel," as quoted by ABC News.
"The road to a full recovery is very long, but at least we are back on it," said Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of Bangkok's Khao San Road Business Association, according to ABC News.
While travelers are returning, challenges and uncertainties, including inflation, supply chain problems, rising infection rates and labor shortages, are still affecting the post-COVID-19 pandemic world, and full economic recoveries are generally not expected until at least 2024.
Before June, widespread chaos had also affected summer travel, with airports and airlines that cut back during the the pandemic struggling to meet demand, resulting in cancelled flights, lost baggage and other issues.
Industry sources said many tourists booked trips on short notice, causing planning difficulties for hotels, tour operators and others.
"It is really the fall season that is of concern," said Sandra Carvao, chief of market intelligence and competitiveness at the UN World Tourism Organization.
"The most important thing for people when they decide to go on vacation is health and safety. Always has been," said Simon Hudson, professor of tourism at the University of South Carolina, as reported by ABC News.