Tuesday, March 2, 2021

2020 worst year on record for international tourism, says UN

UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by an average of 70-75% over the whole of the year, meaning global tourism will have returned to levels of 30 years ago.

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Globally, international arrivals fell by 72% over the first 10 months of 2020, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain Covid-19  all contributing to the worst year on record in the history of tourism.

According to the latest tourism data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October when compared with the same period of 2019.

This translates into a loss of US$935 billion in revenue from international tourism, more than 10 times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis.

UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, told reporters, “Our data show the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global tourism. Even as news of vaccines boosts traveller confidence, there is still a long road to recovery.

“It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors in this unprecedented crisis. We thus need to step up our efforts to safely open borders while supporting tourism jobs and businesses.”

Based on the current evidence, UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by 70-75% over the whole of 2020 meaning global tourism will have returned to levels of 30 years ago, with one billion fewer arrivals and a loss of over US$1 trillion in international tourism receipts.

Such a massive drop in tourism is likely to result in an economic loss of US$2 trillion in world GDP.

Asia and the Pacific, the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions to date, saw an 82% decrease in arrivals in the first ten months of 2020.

The Middle East recorded a 73% decline, while Africa saw a 69% drop. International arrivals in both Europe and the Americas declined by 68%.

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