UNWTO reports 2020 as the worst year for tourism

Published on : Saturday, January 30, 2021

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently reported that global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74 per cent when compared to 2019. Destinations worldwide welcomed one billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 as compared to the previous year, due to an unprecedented fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions.

This also compares with the four per cent decline recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the collapse in international travel represents an estimated loss of US$1.3 trillion in export revenues, more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. UNWTO stated that the crisis has put between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk, many of them in small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Due to the evolving nature of the pandemic, many countries are also reintroducing stricter travel restrictions including mandatory testing, quarantines and in some cases a complete closure of borders, all affecting 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, contributing to the easing travel restrictions and slowly normalising travel during the year ahead.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, UNWTO said in a statement that while much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, people are aware that the crisis is far from over. He mentioned that the harmonisation, coordination and digitalization 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.

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