TOURISM DURING COVID-19: “AN UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC IMPACT”

Chandigarh, Surbhi Gupta: The tourism industry is one of the most affected sectors due to Covid-19. Now with the second wave of pandemic worldwide, more than 95% of the tourist destinations had travel restrictions, which will improve over a period in 2021-22.

According to the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) fell by 72% in January-October 2020 over the same period last year. The decline in the first ten months of the year represents 900 million fewer international tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 and translates into a loss of US$ 935 billion in export revenues from international tourism, more than 10 times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis.

Considering continent-wise, Asia and the Pacific saw an 82% decrease in arrivals in January-October 2020. The Middle East recorded a 73% decline, while Africa saw a 69% drop this ten-month period. International arrivals in both Europe and the Americas declined by 68%.

The decline in travel & tourism also affected its allied sectors including Hospitality, Transportation, F&B, Entertainment, Financial Services, and Travel Agents, etc. All together the impact is much higher than we can imagine.

Domestic tourism is driving the recovery of several destinations in India, but in most cases only partially, as it is not compensating for the drop in international demand.

Looking ahead, the announcement and the rollout of vaccines globally are expected to gradually increase consumer confidence and contribute to ease travel restrictions. UNWTO has extended scenarios for 2021-2024 point to a rebound in international tourism by the second half of 2021. Nonetheless, a return to 2019 levels in terms of international arrivals could take 2 to 4 years.

With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows how quickly tourism and business travel will recover, whether we will still fly as much as before, and what the travel experience will look like once new health security measures are in place.

One thing is for certain: With many responsible citizens and passionate travelers around the world, there will be many more vacations, business trips, weekend getaways, and family reunions awaiting the post-Covid period.