According to UNWTO’s World Tourism Barometer May 2020, due to the widespread travel restrictions, the first three months of 2020 have seen a 22-per-cent global decline in international arrivals. Based on these figures, UNWTO predicts that should borders begin reopening in July, the world would experience a 58-per-cent decline in international arrivals; this figure increases to 80 per cent if restrictions do not begin to ease until early December.
In March alone, Arrivals dropped by 57 per cent following the start of a lockdown in many countries. This is equal to roughly 67 million international arrivals and about S$80 billion in exports from tourism.
“This is by far the worst result in the historical series of international tourism since 1950 and would put an abrupt end to a 10-year period of sustained growth since the 2009 financial crisis,” the report reads.
Figures also highlight that Asia and the Pacific were the hardest hit by the fall in tourism due to Covid-19 restrictions, experiencing a 35-per-cent decrease in arrivals in Q1 2020. Europe followed, with a 19-per-cent decline in the same period; the Americas were down 15 per cent; Africa was down 12 per cent; and the Middle East was down 11 per cent.
The report also looks at recovery scenarios, detailing that domestic demand for tourism destinations is expected to recover faster than international demand. Still, looking at 2020 on the whole, the report notes that there will likely be between 850 million and 1.1 billion fewer international tourist arrivals; up to $1.2-trillion loss in export revenues from tourism; and up to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk.
“The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General. “Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.”
What’s more, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that the majority of the job losses in the global travel and tourism sector will occur in G20 countries.
“This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time,” commented Gloria Guevara, CEO of WTTC. “In just April alone, our research shows an increase of 25 million in the number of job losses in travel and tourism. The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic. Travel and tourism is the backbone of the global economy. Without it, global economies will struggle to recover in any meaningful way and hundreds of millions of people will suffer enormous financial and mental damage for years to come.”
UNWTO’s report, which is available to read here, also highlights some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the global tourism industry, citing innovation and digitalisation, as well as sustainability and sustainable-oriented segments (rural, nature, health), as some of the opportunities that global tourism should consider.