The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released an updated assessment of the likely impact of COVID-19 on international tourism.
With the unprecedented introduction of travel restrictions around the world, the United Nations specialized agency for tourism expects international tourist arrivals to fall by 20 to 30 per cent in 2020 compared to figures of 2019 .
“Of all economic sectors, tourism is one of the hardest hit. However, our sector remains united to face this immense health emergency - our first and absolute priority - and to work together to mitigate the impact of the crisis, in particular on employment, and to support more action. broad in favor of recovery, being a driver of employment and economic well-being all over the world. " UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement.
An expected drop of 20 to 30 per cent could decrease international tourism receipts (exports) by between $300 and $450 billion USD, or almost a third of the $1.5 trillion USD in revenue generated in 2019.
Based on past market trends, COVID-19 would lose five to seven years of growth .
In comparison, in 2009, with the global economic crisis, international tourist arrivals had fallen by 4 per cent, while the SARS outbreak had caused a decline of only 0.4 per cent in 2003.
"The historic resilience of tourism"
In the press release, Pololikashvili added that "if it is still too early to fully assess the likely impact of COVID-19 on tourism, it is clear that millions of jobs in the sector are likely to be destroyed. About 80% of all tourism businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the sector is at the forefront of providing jobs and other opportunities for women, young people and rural people. ”
However, the UNWTO emphasizes “the historic resilience of tourism” and its “ capacity to create jobs in the aftermath of crises,” while stressing the importance of international cooperation and making the sector a central place in efforts to recovery.
Since the start of the current crisis, UNWTO has worked closely with the entire United Nations system, and in particular directly alongside the World Health Organization (WHO), to guide the sector by formulating major recommendations for use by both senior executives and individual tourists.
In order to unify and reinforce the action carried out, the Organization set up the Crisis Committee for World Tourism.