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According to a new release from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the drop in international travel demand from January to June 2020 has resulted in a loss of 440 million international arrivals.
This equates to about $460 billion in export revenues, which is five times the loss in international tourism income recorded in 2009 during the global financial crisis.
Compared to 2019, international tourist arrivals dropped 93% in June, while international arrivals for the first half of the year represent a 65% plunge compared to 2019.
According to UNWTO, “this represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries around the world closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.”
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.
The agency is hopeful that safe and responsible tourism is doable, and it points to figures showing that 53% of destinations have eased travel restrictions as of early September.
“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,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of UNWTO. “Coordinated action is key.”
Hardest-Hit RegionsAsia/the Pacific was the hardest-hit region with a 72% decline in tourists for the first half of 2020. During this period, Europe was the second-most impacted region, with a 66% decline in tourists. The Americas suffered a 55% decrease, while the Middle East experienced a 57% decrease.
The hardest-hit subregions were North-East Asia (-83%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (-72%), though all world regions and subregions recorded declines of more than 50% in arrivals in January to June of 2020.
UNWTO believes that reduced travel demand and tepid consumer confidence will continue to impact the tourism outlook for 2020. Current trends — such as the reintroduction of travel restrictions in some destinations — point to a drop in international travel demand of 70%.
While the agency is optimistic that the availability of a vaccine, the lifting of restrictions and a return of travel confidence will positively impact 2021 demand, it predicts that “the return to 2019 levels in terms of tourist arrivals would take between two to four years.”
The DetailsUnited Nations World Tourism Organizationwww.unwto.org