Pandemic curbs set tourism back three decades, according to UN body – dpa international


Some retailers open, some not, along central Dublin street in June (Simon Roughneen)

Some retailers open, some not, but very few visitors seen on this central Dublin street in June (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN  — International arrivals have likely dropped by over 70 per cent in 2020 due to pandemic-related restrictions, taking overall tourism and travel numbers back to 1990 levels.

The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Thursday that it “expects international arrivals to decline by 70% to 75% for the whole of 2020,” after the January-October period showed “900 million fewer international tourists when compared with the same period of 2019.”

Such an outcome would mean that “global tourism will have returned to levels of 30 years ago,” according to the UNWTO, when the world’s population was over 2 billion less than it is now.

The travel collapse could mean “a loss of some 1.1 trillion dollars in international tourism receipts,” according to the UNWTO.

“It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors by this unprecedented crisis,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Asia-Pacific has been the worst-hit region, with arrivals over the period down 82 per cent on 2019, 10 percentage points worse than the global average.

Most of the region’s countries have kept their borders largely closed since March, mostly admitting only returning nationals, resident foreigners or essential workers.

Some, such as Australia and Malaysia, prohibited citizens from leaving the country for a period.

Europe and the Americas have been the least badly affected regions, registering declines of 69 and 68 per cent respectively.

“Europe is the region in which more destinations have eased such restrictions, mainly among Schengen member states,” the UNWTO said.

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