In just the first quarter of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a drop of 22 percent in the number of tourist arrivals and according to data just released by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the outlook for the rest of 2020 look just as bleak.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said “The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.” And UNWTO have predicted that 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk across the world due to the pandemic.
It isn’t all bad news as tourism experts are also predicting a strong bounce back in 2021, with even a strong end to 2020 possible. Domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international demand according to the UNWTO Panel of Experts survey. The majority expects to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021. Based on previous crises, leisure travel is expected to recover quicker, particularly travel for visiting friends and relatives, than business travel.
Current scenarios point to possible declines in arrivals of 58% to 78% for the year. These depend on the speed of containment and the duration of travel restrictions and shutdown of borders. The following scenarios for 2020 are based on three possible dates for the gradual opening up of international borders.
Scenario 1 (-58%) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early July
Scenario 2 (-70%) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions in early September
Scenario 3 (-78%) based on the gradual opening of international borders and easing of travel restrictions only in early December.