The tourism impact of COVID-19 might be as high as $4 trillion: UN

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The coronavirus outbreak has nearly halted international aviation travel, resulting in losses of up to $2.4 trillion.

According to a United Nations research released on Wednesday, the economic impact of the tourism drop since the coronavirus epidemic broke out last year might be more than $4 trillion.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a joint research that concluded that the lack of widespread immunization in underdeveloped nations was causing significant economic losses.

In a statement, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stated, “Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and improving immunization to safeguard communities and enable tourism’s safe restart is crucial to the recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources.”

Many developing countries, he said, are heavily reliant on international tourism.
For much of last year, worldwide aviation travel was nearly halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, as many governments refused to allow non-essential travel.

Last year, this caused a $2.4 trillion hole in the tourism and allied sectors, and the research cautioned that a similar loss could happen this year, depending on how COVID-19 vaccines are distributed.

At a press briefing, UNCTAD’s trade analysis branch’s Ralf Peters said, “The outlook for this year doesn’t look much better.”

“The first three months were difficult once again, with little travel. “There is a reasonable expectation of a comeback in the second part of the year, at least to some extent in North America and Europe,” he added, praising immunizations.

Because COVID-19 immunization rates are so disparate – some nations have vaccinated less than 1% of their population while others have vaccinated more than 60% – the economic damage will be focused in the countries with low vaccination rates.

“The unequal roll-out of vaccinations accentuates the economic hit tourism has experienced in underdeveloped countries, which might account for up to 60% of global GDP losses,” according to the paper.

It was highlighted that they had already experienced the largest declines in tourism arrivals last year, estimated to be between 60% and 80%.

“In foreign tourism, we are at levels similar to those of 30 years ago, so we are essentially in the 1980s… Many people’s livelihoods are in jeopardy,” said Zoritsa Urosevic, the UNWTO’s Geneva representative.

Although nations with high vaccination rates, such as the United States, are projected to recover sooner, the UNWTO does not expect international tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.


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