World Tourism Could Fall 80% In Toughest Year On Record

The World Tourism organisation has just released some sobering new data for 2020, revealing that international tourism took a 22% hit in Q1 and could decline by 60-80% over the whole year.

The World Tourism organisation has just released some sobering new data for 2020, revealing that international tourism took a 22% hit in Q1 and could decline by 60-80% over the whole year.

International arrivals in March dropped sharply by 57% following the start of a lockdown in many countries, as well as the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders.

This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about US$80 billion in receipts (exports from tourism).

“The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy,”

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

Image: Joshua Newton

Although Asia and the Pacific show the highest impact in relative and absolute terms (-33 million arrivals), the impact in Europe, though lower in percentage, is quite high in volume (-22 million).

The World Tourism Organised said this “is by far the worst crisis that international tourism has faced since records began in 1950”.

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“The impact will be felt to varying degrees in the different global regions and at overlapping times, with Asia and the Pacific expected to rebound first”.

Domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international demand according to the UNWTO Panel of Experts survey.

The majority expects to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021. Based on previous crises, leisure travel is expected to recover quicker, particularly travel for visiting friends and relatives, than business travel.

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The estimates regarding the recovery of international travel is more positive in Africa and the Middle East with most experts foreseeing recovery still in 2020.

Experts in the Americas are the least optimistic and least likely to believe in recovery in 2020, while in Europe and Asia the outlook is mixed, with half of the experts expecting to see recovery within this year.