COVID: Global tourism losses ′could top $4 trillion′ | News | DW | 30.06.2021

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COVID: Global tourism losses 'could top $4 trillion'

A United Nations report says the global tourism industry will face huge losses due to lockdowns and vaccine disparity. Developing nations and countries with low vaccination rates are expected to suffer more.

A woman with a mask in the Canary Islands

Vaccine inequity is said to be one of the reasons for losses

The global tourism economy could face a loss of more than $4 trillion (€3.3 trillion), a United Nations report said Wednesday.

The joint report by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said a slow pace of vaccination in developing countries is contributing to the losses. Many developing nations' economies are dependent on tourism.

"Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support tourism's safe restart is critical to the recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources," UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement.

How the COVID pandemic affected travel

A worldwide travel halt since the beginning of the pandemic resulted in a $2.4 trillion loss in tourism and related sectors last year. A similar hole may occur this year depending on distribution of vaccines, the report warned. 

Reduced travel resulted in an average 5.5% rise in unemployment of unskilled labor. Tourism sector workers in countries without welfare schemes are expected to suffer more income losses. 

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Developing countries suffered the largest reduction in tourist arrivals in 2020, ranging from 60 to 80%. The most-affected regions are northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, North Africa and south Asia, while the least-affected areas are North America, western Europe and the Caribbean.

Vaccine inequity causes losses

The report said economic damages would be concentrated in countries with low vaccination rates. Some countries have vaccinated less than 1% of their population; others more than 60%. 

"The asymmetric rollout of vaccines magnifies the economic blow tourism has suffered in developing countries, as they could account for up to 60 percent of the global GDP losses," said the report. 

Tourism revival in countries such as France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland are expected to revive quicker. The UNWTO does not expect a return to pre-COVID levels of international travel until 2023. 

Although a rebound is expected in the second half of this year, the UNCTAD report still shows a loss of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion in 2021, compared to 2019.


tg/rt (dpa, AFP)

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