Global tourism losses reach $730 billion in 8 months
The UNWTO emphasized that the loss in revenue is already more than eight times the loss experienced during the 2009 global financial crisis.
Jennifer Rendon

Global tourism losses reach $730 billion in 8 months

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The international tourism industry has lost around $730 billion in revenues in eight months this year, as tourist arrivals plunged due to the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported.

In a statement, the UNWTO said international tourist arrivals dropped 70 percent in January to August to 700 million.

It added that in July and August alone, arrivals fell 81 percent and 79 percent, respectively, despite both months being traditionally the busiest of the year and the peak of the Northern Hemisphere summer season.

The UNWTO emphasized that the loss in revenue is already more than eight times the loss experienced during the 2009 global financial crisis.

“This unprecedented decline is having dramatic social and economic consequences, and puts millions of jobs and businesses at risk,” UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“This underlines the urgent need to safely restart tourism, in a timely and coordinated manner,” he said.

All world regions recorded large declines in arrivals in the first eight months of the year, with Asia and the Pacific posting the largest decline in arrivals of 79 percent.

This was followed by Africa and the Middle East with a 69 percent drop in arrivals each. Europe registered a 68 percent drop in arrivals, while the Americas saw a 65 percent decline.

“Following its gradual reopening of international borders, Europe recorded comparatively smaller declines in July and August (72 percent percent and 69 percent, respectively). The recovery was short-lived however, as travel restrictions and advisories were reintroduced amid an increase in contagions,” the UNWTO said.

Asia and the Pacific recorded the largest declines with 96 percent in both months, which reflects the closure of borders in China and other major destinations in the region.

The UNWTO emphasized that the demand for travel remains largely subdued due to the ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic and low confidence.

“Based on the latest trends, UNWTO expects an overall drop close to 70 percent for the whole of 2020,”the organization said.

The UNWTO’s panel of experts said it foresees a rebound in international tourism in 2021, mostly in the third quarter of 2021.

“However, around 20 percent of experts suggest the rebound could occur only in 2022,”it added.

It emphasized that 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.

“The lack of coordinated response among countries to ensure harmonized protocols and coordinated restrictions, as well as the deteriorating economic environment were also identified by experts as important obstacles for recovery,” the UNWTO said.

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