International tourism may have lost $320 billion during pandemic: UN

New Delhi (NVI): The tourism industry lost $320 billion in revenues in the first five months of the year as international travel came to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations World Tourism Barometer.

This is more than three times the loss during the Global Economic Crisis of 2009.

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) saw a decrease of 56 per cent, or 300 million fewer people, compared to the same period in 2019. It was 98 per cent lower in May when compared to 2019.

A little over half the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Panel of Experts believe international tourism will only recover in the second half of 2021. Domestic tourism, however, is expected to resume much faster.

According to the latest analysis from the UNWTO, 40 per cent of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19.

This is up from 22 per cent of destinations on June 15 and 3 per cent on May 15. Of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders in place.

Furthermore, major international airlines like American and United Air Lines, have lost billions of dollars in revenue and have cut their flight schedules to trim expenses. Despite those cuts, airlines have been laying off workers and calling for voluntary retirements among their white-collar workforces.

In addition to this, the UN agency has called for an early restart of tourism with protocols in place to prevent infections. It says the dramatic fall in international tourism places millions of livelihoods at risk.

However, in Europe and other regions where tourism resumed quickly there have been cases of people returning from a summer vacation and testing positive for the coronavirus.