22% fall in international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020 due to Covid-19
CAPE TOWN - The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a 22 percent fall in international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020, the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed Thursday.
According to the United Nations specialized agency, the crisis could lead to an annual decline of between 60-80 percent when compared with 2019 figures. This would place millions of livelihoods at risk and threatened to roll back progress made in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UNWTO said in a statement.
“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,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Arrivals in March dropped sharply by 57 percent following the start of a lockdown in many countries, as well as the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders. This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals, and about U$80 billion in receipts .
Although Asia and the Pacific shows the highest impact in relative and absolute terms (-33 million arrivals), the impact in Europe, though lower in percentage, is quite high in volume (-22 million).
Scenarios pointed to possible declines in arrivals of 58-78 percent for the year, depending on the speed of containment and the duration of travel restrictions and shutdown of borders.
Domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international demand in 2021, according to the UNWTO Panel of Experts survey. The majority expected to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020, but mostly in 2021. Leisure travel is expected to recover quicker, particularly travel for visiting friends and relatives, than business travel.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE