Global tourism takes dip amidst COVID-19, may lose $4trn, says UN
By Taiwo Adeleye with Agency report
It is a gloomy outlook for world tourism and the millions of people who depend on it for livelihood as the industry is set to shed about four trillion dollars due to the impacts of the global pandemic, COVID-19, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
In a report jointly issued with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), it stated that the estimate was based on losses caused by the pandemic’s direct impact on tourism and the ripple effect on related sectors with outlook worse than previously expected.
The steep drop in tourist arrivals worldwide in 2020 resulted in a 2.4 trillion dollars economic hit, the report said, and a similar figure is expected this year depending on the uptake in COVID-19 vaccines, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“The world needs a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism, taking potential structural changes into account,” said Isabelle Durant, the UNCTAD acting Secretary-General.
Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support tourism’s safe restart is critical to the recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources.
“Recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources, especially in developing countries, many of which are highly dependent on international tourism,” the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.
In the report, international tourist arrivals declined by about one billion (or 73 per cent) in 2020 while in the first quarter of 2021 the drop hovered around 88 per cent with developing countries had borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact on tourism, with estimated reductions in arrivals of between 60 per cent and 80 per cent.
The agencies said the “asymmetric roll-out” of COVID-19 vaccines had magnified the economic blow to the tourism sector in the countries mentioned as they could account for up to 60 per cent of global GDP losses.
However, countries with high vaccination rates will likely recover faster with countries like France, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States presenting a better outlook for recovery.
It is however expected that international tourist arrivals will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or later, due to barriers such as travel restrictions, slow containment of the virus, low traveler confidence and a poor economic environment.
While a tourism rebound is anticipated in the second half of the year, the agencies anticipate a loss of between 1.7 trillion dollars and 2.4 trillion dollars in 2021 based on simulations which exclude stimulation programmes and similar policies.
The authors outline three possible scenarios for the tourism sector in 2020, with the most pessimistic reflecting a 75 per cent reduction in international arrivals.
This scenario sees a drop in global tourist receipts of nearly 950 billion dollars, which would cause a loss in real GDP of 2.4 trillion dollars, while the second reflects a 63 per cent reduction in international tourist arrivals.