Tourism

International tourism faces worst crisis since records began: UNWTO

The travel industry could face an 80 per cent drop in international arrivals for 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, with the livelihoods of 120 million people now at risk.

With the release of new reports from the world’s peak tourism authority, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the unparalleled impacts of the coronavirus are startlingly clear.

World tourism faces its worst crisis since records began in 1950, with as many as 1.1 billion fewer people travelling in 2020. All up, this could see a decline in international arrivals of up between 58 per cent and 80 per cent this year.

Worldwide travel restrictions and airport closures have all but shuttered the world’s tourism industry.

According to the UNWTO, the 58 per cent figure would be based on the gradual reopening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions by July, while the 80 per cent figure accounts for a reopening and easing by early December.

Based on the worst-case scenario, the crisis threatens the livelihoods of as many as 120 million people who directly depend on tourism for employment, as a result of the loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion tourists.

This translates to a potential financial drop in tourism export revenues of US$910 billion ($1.4 trillion) to US$1.2 trillion ($1.84 trillion).

The predictions are based on UNWTO’s figures for the first quarter of 2020, which showed the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a 22 per cent fall in international tourist arrivals, translating into US$80 billion ($122.7 billion) in lost exports.

Moreover, as lockdowns began to be enforced across the globe, March alone saw a 57 per cent drop in arrivals.

“The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.”

The figures are in line with the predictions of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which said more than 100 million jobs are at risk, with almost 75 million in G20 countries.

“This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time,” WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said in April.

“In just the last month 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.”

The impact will be felt to varying degrees in the different global regions and at overlapping times, with UNWTO expecting Asia and the Pacific – the regions hardest hit by the drop in tourism spend – to rebound first.

It comes as air passenger revenues are expected to be US$314 billion ($491 billion) below 2019. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines are also expected to burn through about US$61 billion (more than $95 billion) in liquidity in this year’s second quarter alone.

In April, the WTTC advised what the “new normal” of travel could look like with the release of four principles created to ensure “swift recovery for the sector”, which the authority delivered to G20 tourism ministers.

New protocols and standards are now reportedly being mapped out in collaboration with various associations, including the UNWTO, World Health Organisation, European Travel Commission and IATA, with measures on global hygiene standards and intensive cleaning regimes in hotels, aircraft and cruise ships.

The UNWTO, along with destination experts cited by the authority, expects domestic tourism to bounce back before international tourism. In Europe, this could well be a reality for Europeans seeking a summer holiday, according to the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen.

While closer to home, the idea of a trans-Tasman tourism bubble between Australia and New Zealand – and possibly the Pacific Islands – has been shared from an industry to governmental level.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has prioritised domestic border openings first, paving the way for a domestic tourism push by Tourism Australia.

If you are seeking support during this tough time, Travel Weekly‘s new industry network is ready to welcome you with open arms. Click HERE to join the Travel Trade Life Raft.


Featured image: iStock/Skyimages



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Skip the rebound surge with South America

For clients eager to travel overseas again but wanting to avoid the summer disruptions, leave Greece or California for another time and head to South America.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Events

Top 12 unmissable events for Italian summer trips

Summer in Italy means sunshine, gelato, promenading after dinner, Aperols overlooking the ocean, hiking, cycling…and a jam-packed events calendar.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Airport queues return in anticipation of the school holidays

If you were looking for a good chance to relisten to Led Zeppelin’s entire discography but can’t find the time, we recommend booking a flight to literally anywhere from Sydney or Melbourne airport this month.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Queensland government mulls tourism tax

In response to this, the NSW government will be introducing an ice-cream tax, which has infuriated primary school kids across the state.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

South Africa drops all remaining COVID restrictions

Meanwhile, we’ve decided to keep mask-wearing optional in Travel Weekly’s office, mainly to protect us against the office dogs’ various… smells.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

AFTA and CLIA bring back NTIA and the port & destination showcase

Polish your dancing shoes because it’s industry events galore as the two peak bodies reveal the return of two much sought-after happenings.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Breaking News

Jetstar CEO to step down as Qantas promises $5,000 boost to employees and more domestic capacity cuts

It’s a day of mixed emotions for Qantas and Jetstar staff today, with bouts of cheering and sobbing breaking out at an alarming rate.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Save the date! Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania announces dates for ‘Aloha Down Under’ roadshow 2022   

by sponsored by Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania

Get your diaries out because Australia and New Zealand’s biggest annual Hawai‘i Roadshow, Aloha Down Under, is on from the 22nd to 29th August 2022. 

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Marriott launch home rental collection for ANZ

Marriott has launched its new home-rental collection while the Travel Weekly staff have decided to launch a Pokémon cards collection. It’s not quite as significant but at least it’s something.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Avis launches high-end car rental brand for luxe travellers

Got any clients looking to indulge in their midlife crisis without going the whole hog? We’ve got good news.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

TravelManagers announce speakers for national conference

We heard that the muppets will be there, but we have been watching a lot of Sesame Street lately so we could be getting confused.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“I thought I was going to die”: Passenger plane catches fire on runway

Don’t worry, the photo shows a white chemical foam used to put out the fire, not a random snowfall confined to a 30-metre area in Miami as you may assume from a first glance.

Share

CommentComments