International tourist arrivals will be down 20% to 30% in when compared with 2019 figures, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The UNWTO updated its assessment on the coronavirus’ impact on international tourism, stressing that these numbers are based on the latest developments as the global community faces up to an unprecedented social and economic challenge and should be interpreted with caution in view of the extreme uncertain nature of the current crisis.
The UNTWO forecast that the expected fall of between 20% to 30% could translate into a decline in international tourism receipts (exports) of between $300bn and $450bn. This stands at almost one third of the $ 1.5tr generated in 2019.
Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that between five and seven years’ worth of growth will be lost to COVID-19. Putting this into context, UNWTO noted that in 2009, on the back of the global economic crisis, international tourist arrivals declined by 4%, while the SARS outbreak led to a decline of just 0.4% in 2003.
“Tourism is among the hardest hit of all economic sectors. However, tourism is also united in helping to address this immense health emergency – our first and utmost priority – while working together to mitigate the impact of the crisis, particularly on employment, and to support the wider recovery efforts through providing jobs and driving economic welfare worldwide,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.
Pololikashvili concluded that it is too early to make a full assessment of the likely impact of COVID-19 on tourism, mentioning that millions of jobs within the sector are at risk of being lost.