International tourist arrivals could fall by 60-80%, dependant on when coronavirus (COVID-19) related travel restrictions are lifted, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has warned.
The organisation also stressed that the plunge in arrivals could put as many as 100-120m jobs at risk, also causing a $910bn-$1.2trn deficit in exports.
The UN agency has released a set of guidelines to help the tourism sector emerge from the pandemic stronger and more sustainably.
The guidelines highlighted the need to act decisively, to restore confidence, and to embrace innovation and the digital transformation of global tourism, as the UNWTO strengthened its partnership with Google.
The guidelines were produced in consultation with the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, and aim to support governments and the private sector as they recover from the unprecedented crisis.
“These guidelines provide both governments and businesses with a comprehensive set of measures designed to help them open tourism up again in a safe, seamless and responsible manner,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “They are the product of the enhanced cooperation that has characterised tourism’s response to this shared challenge, building on knowledge and inputs from across the public and private sectors and from several UN agencies as part of the UN’s wider response.”
The new guide, a follow up to recommendations for action already endorsed by the committee, is focused on seven priorities for tourism recovery. These are based on pillars mitigating the economic impact, developing safety protocols and coordinated responses, whilst also fostering innovation.
These protocols include implementing check procedures where appropriate, including temperature scans, testing, and physical distancing. There would also be a higher frequency of cleaning and the provision of hygiene kits to ensure safety during air travel, and in hospitality services or events.
The UNWTO Guidelines also highlight the opportunity to foster digital transformation at destinations and companies, providing employees with initiatives such as free online training with the UNWTO Online Academy. There will also be access to apps such as Hi Card, to improve international interoperability at airports and hotels. The guidelines recognise the role of technology in promoting social distancing in hotels and tourist destinations.