The United Nations agency has said that global tourism has suffered its worst across continents in the world with international arrivals dropping by 74 percent in 2020.
The latest data from the World Tourism Organisation reported that the destinations worldwide welcomed one billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 than in the previous following the restriction to travel to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the UNWTO barometer, restrictions on international travel represented an estimated loss of $1.3tn in export revenues – more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. It added that the crisis had equally put between 100-120 jobs at risk with the majority in the small and medium-sized enterprise.
“This compares with the four per cent decline recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. Asia and the Pacific (-84 per cent) – the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions currently in place – recorded the largest decrease in arrivals in 2020 (300 million fewer).
“The Middle East and Africa both recorded a 75 per cent decline; Europe recorded a 70 per cent decrease in arrivals, while the Americas saw a 69 per cent decrease in international arrivals.
The UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said, “While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over.
“The harmonisation, coordination and digitalisation of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures, including testing, tracing and vaccination certificates, are essential foundations to promote safe travel and prepare for the recovery of tourism once conditions allow.”
According to the UNWTO, due to the evolving nature of the pandemic, many countries are now reintroducing stricter travel restrictions.
“These include mandatory testing, quarantines and in some cases, complete closure of borders, all weighing on the resumption of international travel. At the same time, the gradual rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine is expected to help restore consumer confidence, contribute to the easing travel restrictions and slowly normalise travel during the year ahead,” it said.