The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer reported a 98% fall in international tourist numbers in May, due to the near-complete lockdown, when compared to 2019. The Barometer also shows a 56% yearly drop in tourist arrivals between January and May. This means that 300 million tourists’ numbers declined and US$320 billion loss in international tourism receipts. This is more than three times the loss during the Global Economic Crisis of 2009.
Governments worldwide see prioritizing public health and protecting jobs and businesses as their two responsibilities
Major decline in tourism puts millions at stake
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “This latest data makes clear the importance of restarting tourism as soon as it is safe to do so. The dramatic fall in international tourism places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries. Governments in every world region have a dual responsibility: to prioritize public health while also protecting jobs and businesses. They also need to maintain the spirit of cooperation and solidarity that has defined our response to this shared challenge and refrain from making unilateral decisions that may undermine the trust and confidence we have been working so hard to build.”
Restarting tourism is in progress, but with low confidence
UNWTO also observes a gradual change in trend, mainly in the Northern Hemisphere. after the border reopening across the Schengen Zone of the European Union on 1 July. While tourism starts to reopen in some destinations, the UNWTO Confidence Index has hit record lows, both for the evaluation of the period January-April 2020, and the prospects for May-August. Most UNWTO panel of tourism experts expects international tourism to recover by the second half of 2021. Others expect a rebound in the first part of next year.
The group of global experts emphasized on various risks such as travel restrictions and border shutdowns still in place in most destinations, major outbound markets such as the United States and China being at standstill, safety concerns associated with travel, the resurgence of the virus and risks of new lockdowns or curfews. Lack of reliable information and a declining economic environment concerns are indicated as factors affecting consumer confidence.
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