Global tourism industry suffers huge losses
Harare (New Ziana) – The global tourism industry suffered estimated losses of up to $195 billion between January and April this year due to the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 worldwide, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has said.
Covid-19 first broke out in China’s Wuhan Province last December, and has since rapidly spread to virtually every part of the world, infecting over eight million people and killing over 450 000 others.
The UNWTO said the tourism sector was one of the hardest-hit by the outbreak, impacting both travel supply and demand.
“While April was expected to be one of the busiest times of the year due to the Easter holidays, the near-universal introduction of travel restrictions led to a fall of 97 percent in international tourist arrivals. This follows a 55 percent decline in March,” it said.
“Between January and April 2020, international tourist arrivals declined by 44 percent, translating into a loss of about US$195 billion in international tourism receipts.”
The UNWTO said the global tourism industry was expected to record between 850 million and 1.1 billion less international tourist arrivals in 2020.
Between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs were also at risk, the global tourism body said.
The UNWTO said the Asia and the Pacific region suffered the greatest decline.
“Asia and the Pacific was the first to be hit by the pandemic and the worst hit between January and April, with arrivals down 51 percent in that period. Europe recorded the second-largest fall, with a 44 percent drop for the same period, followed by the Middle East (-40 percent), the Americas (-36 percent) and Africa (-35 percent).”
Despite the grim outlook, the UNWTO was however pleased that since mid-May, a number of destinations were announcing measures to restart tourism.
These include the introduction of enhanced safety and hygiene measures and policies designed to promote domestic tourism.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The sudden and massive fall in tourist numbers threatens jobs and economies. It is vital, therefore, that the restart of tourism is made a priority and managed responsibly, protecting the most vulnerable and with health and safety as the sector’s number one concern. Until tourism’s restart is underway everywhere, UNWTO again calls for strong support for the sector in order to protect jobs and businesses. We therefore welcome the steps undertaken by both the European Union and individual countries including France and Spain to support tourism economically and build the foundations for recovery.”