Global tourism losses hit $195 billion in 4 months

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The international tourism industry has lost around $195 billion in receipts from January to April this year as tourist arrivals plunged due to the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported.

In a statement, UNWTO said international tourist arrivals in the first four months dropped 44 percent, a decrease of about 180 million tourist arrivals from the same period a year ago.

“While April was expected to be one of the busiest times of the year due to the Easter holidays, the near-universal introduction of travel restrictions led to a fall of 97 percent in international tourist arrivals,” UNWTO said.

The April figure is higher than the 55 percent decline in March, as 100 percent of destinations worldwide had some form of travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

“At the regional level, Asia and the Pacific was the first to be hit by the pandemic and the worst hit between January and April, with arrivals down 51 percent in that period,”the UNWTO said.

Europe recorded the second-largest fall, with a 44 percent drop, followed by the Middle East (-40 percent), the Americas (-36 percent) and Africa (-35 percent).

UNWTO said earlier that international tourist arrivals are seen to decline by up to 78 percent as it came up with three possible scenarios based on the gradual opening of international borders.

Under the first scenario, UNWTO sees international arrivals to drop 58 percent if international borders are gradually opened and travel restrictions are eased in early July.

Meanwhile, international arrivals are projected to drop 70 percent if this happens in early September, and 78 percent if it begins early December.

This translates to a potential loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourists and a possible loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism with around 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk.

On a lighter note, UNWTO said it has identified an increase in the number of destinations announcing measures to restart tourism since mid-May.

“These include the introduction of enhanced safety and hygiene measures and policies designed to promote domestic tourism,”it added.

UNWTO emphasized that the restart of tourism should be done responsibly.

It added that the gradual lifting of restrictions in some countries, together with the creation of travel corridors, the resumption of some international flights and enhanced safety and hygiene protocols, are among the measures being introduced by governments as they look to restart tourism.

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