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International tourism to decline 60-80% in 2020: UNWTO report

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INTERNATIONAL TOURIST NUMBERS COULD FALL 60-80%On May 11, 2020 According to the latest data of the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) the international tourism could decline by 60-80% in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures, due to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak which will result in loss of USD 910 billion to USD 1.2 trillion and places millions of livelihoods at risk and threatens to curtail the progress made in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

Gist of the report

i.As per the latest (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a 22% fall in international tourist arrivals during the 1st quarter(3 months) of 2020.

ii.Arrivals dropped by 57% in March after the lockdown began in many countries & the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders. This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about USD80 billion in receipts (exports from tourism).

iii.Even though Asia and the Pacific shows the highest impact in relative and absolute terms (-33 million arrivals), the impact in Europe, though less in percentage, is high in volume (-22 million).

iv.This year’s prospects were downgraded several times since the outbreak and uncertainty continues to dominate.

v.The current scenarios indicate a possible decline in arrivals of 58% to 78% for the year. These depend on the speed of the control and the duration of travel restrictions and shutdown of borders.


i.The scenarios for 2020 is based on 3 possible dates for the gradual opening up of international borders & ease of travel restriction in early July for Scenario 1 (-58%), Scenario 2 (-70%)  in early September, Scenario 3 (-78%)  in early December.

ii.Under these scenarios, the impact of the loss of demand in international travel can convert into- Loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourists, Loss of USD 910 billion to USD 1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism & 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk.

iii.This is the worst crisis international tourism has faced since its inception (1950). The impact will vary across different world regions and over time, where Asia & Pacific is expected to rebound first


i.As per the UNWTO Panel of Experts survey the domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international demand.

ii.Majority of experts expect to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021.

iii.On the basis of previous crises, leisure travel is expected to recover quickly especially travel for visiting friends and relatives, than business travel.

iv.The estimates in regard to the recovery of international travel is more positive in Africa and the Middle East with most experts foreseeing recovery still in 2020.

v.Experts in the Americas are the least optimistic and least likely to believe in recovery in 2020, while in Europe and Asia the outlook is mixed, with half of the experts expecting to see recovery within this year.

About UNWTO:
It is UN’s specialized agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. In total there are 159 member states including India
Headquarters– Madrid, Spain
Secretary General– Zurab Pololikashvili