The UN World Tourism Organization has reported
that international tourist arrivals plunged 93% in June, when
compared to the same month in 2019.
According to the latest World Tourism Barometer,
international tourist arrivals dropped by 65% during the first
half of the year, an unprecedented decrease.
The UNWTO states that the massive drop in
international travel demand over the January-June 2020 period
translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and
about US$ 460 billion in export revenues from international
tourism. This is around five times the loss in international
tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and
UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili,
said, “The latest World Tourism Barometer shows the deep impact
this pandemic is having on tourism, a sector upon which millions
of people depend for their livelihoods. However, 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.”
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.
Europe was the
second-hardest hit of all global regions, with a 66% decline in
tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020. The Americas (-55%),
Africa and the Middle East (both -57%) also suffered. However,
Asia and the Pacific, the first region to feel the impact of
COVID19 on tourism, was the hardest hit, with a 72% fall in
tourists for the six-month period.
At the sub-regional level, North-East Asia (-83%)
and Southern Mediterranean Europe (-72%) suffered the largest
declines. All world regions and sub-regions recorded declines of
more than 50% in arrivals in January-June 2020.
The contraction of
international demand is also reflected in double-digit declines in
international tourism expenditure among large markets. Major
outbound markets such as the United States and China continue to
be at a standstill, though some markets such as France and Germany
showed some improvement in June.
Looking ahead, 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% to 78% in international
tourist arrivals in 2020. Current trends through August point to a
drop in demand closer to 70% (scenario 2), especially now as some
destinations re-introduce restrictions on travel.
The extension of the scenarios to 2021 point to a
change in trend next year, based on the assumptions of a gradual
and linear lifting of travel restrictions, the availability of a
vaccine or treatment and a return of traveller confidence.
Nonetheless, despite this, the UNWTO believes that the return to 2019 levels in terms of
tourist arrivals will now take between 2 to 4 years.