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COVID-19 will cause trillions in international revenue loss for tourism

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Posted: Monday, September 7, 2020. 3:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quoted by World Tourism Review says that after six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism sector could lose at least US$2 trillion (two thousand billion) or 1.5 percent of the world gross domestic product in revenue. For every million dollars lost in international tourism revenue, national income could fall by three times as much, causing dramatic effects on national employment.

If the suspension of international tourism continues for another few months as predicted by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the losses could reach US$2.2 trillion, 2.8 percent of global GDP. At 12 months, the worst-case scenario, the figure could reach US$3.3 trillion, 4.2 percent of world GDP.

The WTO has predicted a 60 to 80 percent reduction in international travel in 2020. It says that $1.6 billion of national revenues, triple over the past 20 years, tourism has become the backbone of many countries’ economies and lifelines for millions, including exports.

But COVID-19 has completely halted the sector – for instance, closing 90 percent of museums worldwide, some for good. With lockdowns, travel restrictions, reduced consumer disposable income and low levels of confidence in travel, sectorial recovery could be significantly slowed.

Belize, which counts tourism as providing up to 40 percent of national revenue, is set to re-open its International Airport to tourists only a month before projected “high season” in October, betting that advances in testing and vaccines will push Americans and others to come here whether on planes or possibly cruise ships. There has been no timeline from the latter but two of the world’s biggest airlines have agreed to start ferrying passengers here on October 1.

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