Global tourism figures for 2020 set to be worst since records began

It should come as no surprise, but the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) has warned the global tourism sector is facing its worst crisis since records began.

The travel sector could see international arrivals slump by as much as 80 per cent in 2020, with up to 1.1 billion fewer people taking trips globally this year.

A UNWTO report forecasts a decline in international arrivals of between 58 per cent and 80 per cent this year, with the first figure based on the gradual reopening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early July, and the latter figure based on early December.

“The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili.

“Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said the sudden drop in arrivals was a “deeply worrying change in such a short time”.

“In just April alone, our research shows an increase of 25m in the number of job losses in travel and tourism,” said Gloria Guevara, CEO of WTTC.

“The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic. Travel and tourism is the backbone of the global economy. Without it, global economies will struggle to recover in any meaningful way and hundreds of millions of people will suffer enormous financial and mental damage for years to come.”