The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak would impact international tourist arrivals in 2020, expecting a negative 1%-3% growth with an estimated loss of $30-50bn. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UNWTO predicted a positive growth of 3%-4% this year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), to date, COVID-19 infected 105,586 patients around the world and has resulted in 3,548 deaths. However, the WHO continues to advise against travel and trade restrictions to affected countries. Many countries have placed restrictions on travelling and some have even banned flights, which of course negatively affected global tourism.
The UNWTO expects Asia and the Pacific to be the most affected region, with an anticipated fall in arrivals at 9%-12%. Estimates for other world regions are currently premature in view of the rapidly evolving situation. The UNWTO stresses that any estimate must be treated with caution and is likely to be updated.
The UNWTO calls for financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at tourism, and to include support for the sector in wider recovery plans and actions for affected economies.
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be felt across the whole tourism value chain. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Small and medium-sized enterprises make up around 80% of the tourism sector and are particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, including within vulnerable communities, relying on tourism.”
“Political and financial commitments are key to ensure that tourism can lead wider economic and social recovery, as proven in past disruptions on the back of the highly resilient nature of the sector and its ability to bounce back strongly,” the UNWTO stressed.
The UNWTO said that it stands ready to provide guidance and support for recovery measures of its members, and the private and public tourism sector, including tourism events and fairs organisers.