UNWTO: Tourism Drops 60 to 80 Percent for 2020; Varying Recovery For 2021

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As for a recovery, domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international demand, according to a UNWTO survey. The majority surveyed expects to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021. Based on previous crises, leisure travel is expected to recover quicker, particularly travel for visiting friends and relatives, than business travel.

The estimates regarding the recovery of international travel is more positive in Africa and the Middle East with most foreseeing recovery still in 2020. Those surveyed in the Americas are the least optimistic and least likely to believe in recovery in 2020, while in Europe and Asia the outlook is mixed, with half expecting to see recovery within this year.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a prepared statement that the world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy, he said.

Prospects for the year have been downgraded several times since the outbreak and uncertainty continues to dominate, the UNWTO stated. Current scenarios, it said, point to possible declines in arrivals of 58% to 78% for the year. These depend on the speed of containment and the duration of travel restrictions and shutdown of borders.

The UNWTO outlined three scenarios for 2020 based on different dates for the gradual opening up of international borders.

Scenario 1 (58% decline) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early July

Scenario 2 (70% decline) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early September

Scenario 3 (78% decline) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions only in early December.

Under these scenarios, the impact on demand in international travel could translate into: A loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion in international tourism; a loss of US$910 billion to US$1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism; and putting 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk.

According to the UNWTO, this is by far the worst crisis that international tourism has faced since records began (1950). The impact will be felt to varying degrees in the different global regions and at overlapping times, with Asia and the Pacific expected to rebound first.

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