Coronavirus and International Tourism

The Tourism Industry is entering a great crisis due to the worldwide panic of the Corona Virus whose duration and scope is still unknown, which is leading to the stock market crash continued for more than a month to all the giants of the sector. The impact of the Covid-19 Corona Virus on world tourism is unquestionable, and the authorities’ forecasts are based on previous experiences with similar crises of the past such as that of SARS or H1N1.

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According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourism could decline by 60-80% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a revenue loss of $ 910 billion to $1.2 trillion. During the first quarter of 2020, there was a fall of 22% in international tourist arrivals. If this condition persists, it will place millions of livelihoods at risk and threatens to roll back progress made in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Tourism Industry has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy.

If we look at the statistics of March, there was a sharp decline of 57% following the start of lockdown in many countries and the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and closure of airports and national borders. This led to a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about $80 billion in exports from tourism. It is expected that the domestic demand recovers faster than international demand. Based on some estimates and research, leisure travel is expected to recover faster than business travel.

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Experts have stated that tourism in the US and China is expected to recover slowly as compared to Africa, Europe, and Asia, which are expected to perform better once everything goes normal. The top countries that earn the highest tourism revenue from international visitors are the United States, Spain, and France. The travel sector in the U.S. estimates that because of coronavirus, the economic fallout for the country will be seven times worse than 9/11. According to Forbes, 6 million travel jobs were at risk by the end of April.

The crash in the tourism industry will spread its effect on all other sectors like lodging, retail, restaurants, attractions, and transportation. This list also includes the oil industry. The Corona Virus has convulsed the world tourism industry, with large hotel chains and digital platforms being forced to cancel reservations worldwide. The tourism industry faces an unprecedented confluence of threats – made up of a global health alarm; the shortage of aircraft due to the crisis; the social demonization of travel; exaggerated and even false media offensives; climate catastrophes; sector taxes; bankruptcies of operators and airlines; and the political instability and economic slowdown in the large markets – which hints at least a global contraction for the tourism business in the near future.

The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill, and tourism has been one of the worst affected of all major economic sectors. Against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty, reliable and up-to-date information is more important than ever, both for tourists and the tourism sector. There is a need for financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at the tourism sector, in coordination with international development organizations, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on employment, protect the most vulnerable segments of society, and accelerate recovery. These days, millions of people in quarantine have been seeking out cultural and travel experiences from their homes. Culture has proven indispensable during this period, and the demand for virtual access to museums, heritage sites, theatres, and performances has reached unprecedented levels. With more than 80% of UNESCO World Heritage properties having closed down, the livelihoods of over millions of cultural professionals have been seriously jeopardized. If tourism is set to contribute to the survival of the culture sector, including the cinemas, arts, and many other segments, it should strengthen the cultural identity and branding of tourism destinations.

Despite all the challenges, the tourism and culture sectors are getting opportunities to create new partnerships and collaboration. They are bound to jointly reinvent and diversify the offer, develop new skills, attract new audiences and support the world’s transition to the new conditions.

“The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic is a challenge we must face together… our response must be calm, consistent and collective. Tourism will once be there to help people and communities recover from this setback.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General

Let’s be optimistic and wait for the normal conditions to come back soon so that we all can resume our daily lives with a proper schedule. When it comes to traveling, we believe that we’ll able to #TravelTomorrow. Let’s pray for the world, especially the doctors and the protective forces working selflessly to fight against the global pandemic.


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