International tourism to nosedive up to 30% in 2020: UNWTO

The number of international tourist arrivals will plummet by 20-30 per cent in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, projected the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The new projection, which takes into account the introduction of major travel restrictions worldwide, is a sharp revision of an earlier forecast in early March of a one to three per cent decline.

UNWTO projects that the number of international tourist arrivals will plummet by 20-30 per cent in 2020; travellers wearing masks walking through Suvarnabhumi Airport pictured

The projected drop in arrivals will lead to an estimated loss in international tourism receipts of between US$300-450 billion, almost one-third of the US$1.5 trillion generated in 2019, said the UNWTO in a statement.

Based on past market trends, this translates to a loss of between five and seven years’ worth of growth due to Covid-19.

In comparison, UNWTO noted that in 2009, on the back of the global economic crisis, international tourist arrivals dipped by four per cent, while the SARS outbreak led to a decline of just 0.4 per cent in 2003.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism is among the hardest hit of all economic sectors. However, tourism is also united in helping to address this immense health emergency – our first and utmost priority – while working together to mitigate the impact of the crisis, particularly on employment, and to support the wider recovery efforts through providing jobs and driving economic welfare worldwide.”

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