$460 billion in export revenues from international tourism have been lost this year, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis, according to this organisation, a specialised agency of the United Nations, in its latest World Tourism Barometer Report report released on Tuesday.
International tourist arrivals dropped 93 per cent in June year-on-year, the report said.
Tourist arrivals fell 65 per cent in the first half of the year, UNWTO said.
440 million international arrivals were lost, according to the report. All world regions and sub-regions recorded declines of more than 50 per cent in arrivals in January-June 2020.
UNWTO forecasts a plunge of 70 per cent in tourist arrivals in 2020.
The reintroduction of restrictions on travel in many countries will bite demand, which had previously been forecast at about 50 per cent,
The return to 2019 levels in terms of tourist arrivals is predicted to take between 2½ to 4 years, according to the report.
“Despite the gradual reopening of many destinations since the second half of May, the anticipated improvement in international tourism numbers during the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere did not materialise,” the report said. This is despite the fact that, as of early September, 53 per cent of destinations had eased travel restrictions.
Europe was the second-hardest hit of all global regions, with a 66 per cent decline in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020. The Americas (-55 per cent), Africa and the Middle East (both -57 per cent) also suffered. However, Asia and the Pacific, the first region to feel the impact of COVID-19 on tourism, was the hardest hit, with a 72 per cent fall in tourists for the six-month period.
At the sub-regional level, North-East Asia (-83 per cent) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (-72 per cent) suffered the largest declines. The contraction of international demand is also reflected in double-digit declines in international tourism expenditure among large markets. Major outbound markets such as the United States and China continue to be at a standstill, though some markets such as France and Germany have shown some improvement in June.
“Safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again,” commented UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Coordinated action is key.”