The global tourism industry will have to until the second half of 2021 before any start of a recovery.
That’s the latest forecast from the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which found travel restrictions during COVID-19 had seen a 98 per cent drop in international tourist numbers in May, equating to $448 billion in lost global tourism revenue.
“This latest data makes clear the importance of restarting tourism as soon as it is safe to do so,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“The dramatic fall in international tourism places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries.
“Governments in every world region have a dual responsibility: to prioritise public health while also protecting jobs and businesses. They also need to maintain the spirit of co-operation and solidarity that has defined our response to this shared challenge and refrain from making unilateral decisions that may undermine the trust and confidence we have been working so hard to build.”
There was one glimmer of hope with the UNWTO reporting that 87 destinations have eased restrictions on international travel already.
Of those, only four destinations had scrapped restrictions completely, while the majority have maintained partial border closures.
But more than half (53%) of all tourist destinations globally remained shut-off to international tourists, including Australia.
“The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health, while also supporting businesses and livelihoods,” Pololikashvili said.
“As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international co-operation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.”