International tourism drops 65% in the first half of 2020: UN

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New Delhi (NVI): International tourist arrivals dropped by 65 percent during the first half of 2020 when compared to last year, the return to 2019 levels may take two to four years, according to UNWTO report.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said that this is an unprecedented setback due to the closure of borders and travel restrictions implemented in the world to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to UNWTO report, the collapse of the demand for international travel from January to June 2020 caused the loss of 440 million international arrivals and around USD 460 billion in export earnings from tourism.

That level of decline in incomes is five times that of the 2009 global financial and economic crisis, it added.

“This latest report shows that the lockdowns introduced during the first half of the year have had a massive impact on international tourism. The sharp and sudden fall in arrivals has placed millions of jobs and businesses at risk,” the UNWTO said.

Moreover, the report stated international tourist arrivals plunged 93 percent in June when compared to 2019. “The return to 2019 levels in terms of tourist arrivals would take between 2 to 4 years,” it added.

The organization also noted that despite the gradual reopening of many destinations since the second half of May, the anticipated improvement in international tourism numbers during the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere did not materialize.

The Asia-Pacific region was the most affected by the current situation with a 72 percent downturn in tourists received in the first half of 2020. It was followed by Europe with a decrease of 66 percent, Africa and the Middle East (57 per cent) and the Americas (55 per cent).

Furthermore, the organization said it seems likely that reduced travel demand and consumer confidence will continue to impact results for the rest of the year.

In May, UNWTO outlined three possible scenarios, pointing to declines of 58 percent to 78 percent in international tourist arrivals this year.

The organization further stated, current trends through August point to a drop in demand closer to 70 percent, especially now as some destinations re-introduce restrictions on travel.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again. Coordinated action is key.”

-RJV