Tourism plummets by more than 70%

According to the latest data, destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, translating to a loss of US$935 billion in export revenues from international tourism.

21 December 2020 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

International arrivals fell by 72% over the first 10 months of this year, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic 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), destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October compared with the same period of 2019.

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

Since the start of the pandemic, the UNWTO has provided governments and businesses with trusted data showing its unprecedented impact on global tourism.

“Even as the news of a vaccine boosts traveller confidence, there is still a long road to recovery. We thus need to step up our efforts to safely open borders while supporting tourism jobs and businesses. It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors by this unprecedented crisis,” UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said.

More of the same

Based on the current evidence, the UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by 70% to 75% for the entire year.

In this case, global tourism will have returned to levels from 30 years ago, with one billion fewer arrivals and a loss of some US$ 1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts.

This massive drop could result in an economic loss of US$2 trillion in world gross domestic product.

According to the UNWTO, travel restrictions continue to weigh on the recovery of tourism.

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

Vaccine increases consumer confidence

Looking ahead, the announcement of a vaccine and the start of vaccination are expected to gradually increase consumer confidence. At the same time, a growing number of destinations are easing or lifting restrictions on travel.

According to the latest research from the UNWTO, the proportion of closed destinations has dropped from 82% in late April to 18% in early November.

The extended scenarios for 2021 to 2024 point to a rebound by the second half of 2021. Nonetheless, a return to 2019 levels in terms of international arrivals could take between two-and-a-half and four years.

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