The coronavirus outbreak has almost stopped international air travel, causing losses of up to US$2.4 trillion.
A United Nations report on Wednesday stated that since the coronavirus pandemic last year, the economic impact of the collapse in tourism could exceed US$4 trillion.
A joint report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) found that the lack of widespread vaccination in developing countries has led to increasing economic losses.
“Tourism is the lifeline of millions of people, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support the safe restart of tourism is essential to restore employment and create much-needed resources,” said Zurab Polorika, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization Shvili said in a statement.
He pointed out that many developing countries are highly dependent on international tourism.
As many countries refused to allow unnecessary travel, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic caused international air travel to almost cease for most of last year.
This caused US$2.4 trillion in losses to the tourism and related industries last year. The report warned that, depending on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, similar losses may occur this year.
“The outlook for this year does not look much better,” said Ralph Peters from UNCTAD’s trade analysis department at a press conference.
“The first three months were terrible, and not much travel took place. A certain recovery is expected in the second half of the year, at least to a certain extent for North America and Europe,” he added, thanks to vaccination.
The relevance of tourism to global growth has never been emphasized.
Its recovery will largely depend on the global absorption of the COVID-19 vaccine.
-World Tourism Organization (@UNWTO) June 30, 2021
As COVID-19 vaccination rates are extremely uneven-some countries have vaccination rates of less than 1% of their population, while others have vaccination rates as high as 60%-economic losses will be concentrated in those countries with low vaccination rates .
The report found that “the asymmetric launch of vaccines amplifies the economic blow to tourism in developing countries because they may account for 60% of global GDP losses.”
It pointed out that their number of tourists dropped the most last year, estimated to be between 60% and 80%.
“In terms of international tourism, we are at the level of 30 years ago, so basically we are in the 80s…many livelihoods are indeed threatened,” said Zoritsa Urosevic, UNWTO Geneva representative in Madrid.
Although the tourism industry in countries with high vaccination rates such as the United States is expected to recover faster, the United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that the international tourism industry will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.