Global tourism has witnessed a fall by 70 per cent in international tourist arrivals as the restrictions on travel introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have continued to hit the sector hard, the latest data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has revealed.
According to the newest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international arrivals plunged 81 per cent in July and 79 per cent in August.
The drop until August represents 700 million fewer arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 and translates into a loss of US$ 730 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
“This is more than eight times the loss experienced on the back of the 2009 global economic and financial crisis”, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “This unprecedented decline is having dramatic social and economic consequences, and puts millions of jobs and businesses at risk”.
The first region to suffer from the impact of Covid-19, Asia and the Pacific, saw a 79 per cent decline in arrivals, followed by Africa and the Middle East (both – 69 per cent), Europe (-68 per cent) and the Americas (-65 per cent).
Europe, however, recorded comparatively smaller declines in July and August (-72 per cent and -69 per cent, respectively) following its gradual reopening of international borders.
Based on the latest trends, UNWTO expects an overall drop close to 70 per cent for the whole of 2020.
Travel restrictions are seen as the main barrier standing in the way of the recovery of international tourism, along with slow virus containment and low consumer confidence.
UNWTO’s Panel of Experts expects a rebound in international tourism in 2021, mostly in the third quarter of 2021. However, around 20 per cent of experts suggest the rebound could occur only in 2022.