International arrivals for the first eight months of 2020 decline by 70 percent

Published on : Saturday, October 31, 2020

As per latest data by the UNWTO, international arrivals for the first eight months of 2020 declined by 70 percent.

According to the newest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international arrivals went down 81percent in July and 79 percent in August, which are traditionally the two busiest months of the year and the peak of the Northern Hemisphere summer season.

The fall until August represents 700 million fewer arrivals compared to the same period in 2019, amounting to a loss of US$ 730 billion in export revenues from international tourism.

The UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “This unprecedented decline is having dramatic social and economic consequences, and puts millions of jobs and businesses at risk. This underlines the urgent need to safely restart tourism, in a timely and coordinated manner.”

All regions globally witnessed huge declines in arrivals in the first eight months of this year. Asia and the Pacific, the first region to endure the blow of COVID-19, saw a 79 percent decrease in arrivals, followed by Africa and the Middle East (both – 69%), Europe (-68%) and the Americas (-65%).

Following its gradual reopening of international borders, Europe witnessed comparatively smaller declines in July and August (-72% and -69%, respectively). The revival was short-lived, however, with travel restrictions and advisories reintroduced amid an increase in virus cases. On the other hand, Asia and the Pacific witnessed the largest declines with -96 percent in both months, owing to the shutting of borders in China and other major destinations in the region.

Based on the latest trends, the UNWTO expects an overall decline of nearly 70 percent for the whole of 2020.

UNWTO’s Panel of Experts predicts a rebound in international tourism in 2021, mostly in the third quarter of 2021. However, around 20 percent of experts have also suggested that the rebound could occur only in 2022.

Travel restrictions are now viewed as the main barrier in the way of recovery of international tourism, along with slow virus containment and low consumer confidence.

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