International tourism has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and by the end of the year the number of international tourist trips could fall by as much as 80 percent, according to estimates by the UN agency for tourism.
In the first quarter of this year, the number of international tourist trips due to the pandemic has already fallen by 22 percent or 67 million, according to a new tourism barometer of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
In March alone, it was reduced by 57 percent, as many countries introduced restrictions on movement and travel. The drop in tourist trips in the first three months of this year means an $80 billion loss in exports, the UNWTO study shows. The situation in the tourism sector can only get worse, the agency said.
If travel restrictions are lifted in early July, the number of tourists could fall by 58 percent this year, the UNWTO has found. If they are abolished in early September, they will fall by 70 percent and if they last until the beginning of December, they will decrease by 78 percent.
If such predictions come true, the incomes of millions of people living off tourism will be called into question, the study's authors said. "The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis," UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement. "Tourism has been hit hard and millions of jobs are at risk in a sector that is among the most labour-intensive in the economy," the study concluded.