While 53 per cent of destinations had eased travel restrictions by September, the lockdowns introduced in the first half of 2020 – in response to the global pandemic – have had a dramatic impact on international tourism revenue, putting millions of jobs and businesses at risk.
UNWTO’s latest World Tourism Barometer highlights that the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January to June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
Asia Pacific hardest hit by fall in international tourism
The impacts of lockdowns and travel restrictions were felt across the world. In Asia and the Pacific, the worst hit region in terms of tourism, there was a 72-per-cent fall in tourists for the six-month period. Europe experienced a 66-per-cent decline in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020, while tourist arrivals dropped 55 per cent in the Americas and 57 per cent in Africa and the Middle East.
Consumer confidence key to picking up tourism
“Looking ahead, it seems likely that reduced travel demand and consumer confidence will continue to impact results for the rest of the year,” UNWTO said. As governments continue to amend travel corridor agreements in line with changing countrywide Covid case numbers, the general sentiment towards international travel continues to falter.
While many creative alternatives promoting domestic travel have sprung up, along with health-conscious initiatives that help give travellers peace of mind, there is still a wariness towards travel, and towards the reliability of travel bookings, as government advice continues to change and businesses continue to struggle. Unless traveller confidence can be boosted, the travel industry looks likely to struggle until a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 becomes widely available.
“The latest World Tourism Barometer shows the deep impact this pandemic is having on tourism, a sector upon which millions of people depend for their livelihoods,” UNWTO said. “However, safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again. Co-ordinated action is key.”