“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism has been disruptive. The restrictions imposed to fight the virus have in fact caused a significant reduction in travel and therefore in tourism”, said the United Nations organization.
It is obvious that the global pandemic had affected many sectors, but the data published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), based in Madrid, show how tourism has been one of the areas most damaged by the effects of COVID-19.
UNWTO said that global tourism lost 1.3 trillion dollars in 2020, this number is eleven times higher than data from the global economic crisis of 2009. Furthermore, according to the report, compared to 2019 there was a decrease of 74% for tourist arrivals from all over the world.
“Non-essential travel should be avoided, but I think we should not take too drastic measures. Travel restrictions must not hinder economic recovery and a well-functioning health system”, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, replied to Berlin that was asking for strongest rules in the Commission’s invitations for restrictions on travel.
The Asia-Pacific region was the first to be hit by the pandemic and is currently the area that continues to hold the strongest travel restrictions, it recorded the largest drop in arrivals during 2020, -300 million fewer arrivals, that is -84% in just one year. As for Europe, there were 500 million fewer arrivals, it is the continent that had “the largest drop in absolute terms” with a decrease of 70% over the year. Instead, the Middle East and Africa recorded a loss of 75% and the Americas a decline of 69% in international arrivals.
According to some experts, the tourism sector will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels before 2023. The scenarios between 2021 and 2024 show that international tourism could take from two-and-a-half to four years to return to 2019 numbers.
“While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over. The harmonization, 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”, said Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary general.