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In Just Five Months, Coronavirus Cost Global Tourism $320 Billion

  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization reported Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have battered the industry and cost just from January to May a staggering $320 billion.
  • According to a UNWTO report, the number of tourists fell by more than half during the first five months of 2020, accounting for 300 million missing visitors compared with last year.
  • The drop in travel is more than three times the decline counted during the global economic crisis in 2009.
  • Visit The Financial Today’s homepage for more stories.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have battered the industry and cost just from January to May a staggering $320 billion, a warning of the catastrophic losses seen in the industry as much of the world remains at home as much as possible.

According to a UNWTO report, the number of tourists fell by more than half during the first five months of 2020, accounting for 300 million missing visitors compared with last year.

And according to France 24, this reported drop in travel is more than three times the decline counted during the global economic crisis in 2009, the UNWTO said, which was the most recent time international tourism dropped.

Although UNWTO acknowledged promising signs of more people traveling—especially as European countries started reopening their borders this month to visitors from some countries—recent upswings of newly recorded cases of coronavirus across Europe and in other countries are threatening progress.

The study explicitly identified the U.S. and Canada as two countries responsible for many visitors remaining “at a standstill” when it comes to travel, with U.S. passengers still being barred from other countries due to the high rate of infection with coronavirus at home.

The U.N. trade and development arm earlier this month said tourism could lose as much as $2.2 trillion over the entire year.

Tourism is especially vulnerable to the pandemic, as most people remain at home to prevent infection. The International Air Transport Association reported in June that it was counting on airlines losing $84.3 billion this year and that air traffic would possibly not return to pre-coronavirus normal until 2024.

“Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying. International markets remain largely closed,” Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement Tuesday. Hotels have also suffered substantial losses since the start of the pandemic.

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[Forbes]

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