New research by Australia-based Compare the Market has identified Hong Kong as the destination most affected by pandemic-induced border closures, quarantine rules and the threat of infection, with a 75 per cent decline in tourism industry performance from 2019 to 2020.
Hong Kong travel and tourism sector contributed just three per cent of GDP in 2020, compared to 12 per cent – or US$45 billion – in 2019.
In the study’s ranking of the best and worst tourism performers, Ireland came off second worst with a 71.4 per cent decline in tourism year-on-year, while Fiji rounded out the top three with a decrease of 65.9 per cent in domestic and international travel.
Of the 45 countries observed, 23 saw their travel industry’s contribution to the national GDP cut in half in a single year, if not more.
Most island nations analysed, such as Fiji, the Bahamas, the Maldives and the Philippines, were able to keep their industry contributions to the national GDP above 10 per cent despite a slide in tourism performance.
On the other end of the scale, Brazil’s tourism industry was the least affected, going from 7.7 per cent in 2019 to 5.5 per cent in 2020.
India emerged second-best with a total decline of 31.9 per cent year-on-year, while Chile’s tourism industry went from being worth 9.9 per cent of the national GDP in 2019 to 6.6 per cent in 2020.
New Zealand, the US and Australia were among those that were able to minimise the damage of the pandemic and keep the decline under 50 per cent. Compare the Market acknowledges the surprising outcome of these countries, as they were among the first to implement restrictions on global air travel by early February 2020.
Domestic tourism might have helped to dampen the effects of suppressed international travel traffic, although domestic campaigns were also hampered by interior border closures, explained Compare the Market.