Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19 could set the global tourism industry back 20 years


The economic impact on the tourism industry could hit $1 trillion. Image: Unsplash

Felix Richter
Data Journalist, Statista
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Global Health

  • The tourism sector has been devastated by COVID-19.
  • It's predicted that 120 million jobs are at risk, with economic damage likely to exceed over $1 trillion.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a new report that draws on UNWTO data to quantify the devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on global tourism. It warns that up to 120 million tourism jobs are at risk, with the economic damage likely to exceed $1 trillion in 2020 alone.

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“It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector,” Mr. Guterres said, in order for it to “regain its position as a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage.” The UN Secretary-General stressed tourism’s role as one of the most important economic sectors, providing livelihoods to hundreds of millions of people while “boosting economies and enabling countries to thrive.”

Due to restrictions imposed in March when the coronavirus started spreading rapidly around the world, international travel came to a screeching halt in April and May, resulting in international tourist arrivals that trailed last year’s total by almost 60 percent through the first five months of 2020. Depending on when travel restrictions will be fully lifted, the World Tourism Organization expects international tourism receipts (i.e. spending by international tourists) to drop between $910 billion and $1.2 trillion this year, which would set the global tourism industry back by 20 years.

Pandemic could set tourism sector back by $1 trillion.
Pandemic could set tourism sector back by $1 trillion. Image: Statista
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