In what is being called the ‘pandemic year’, 2020 saw many negative developments which were a direct result of the ongoing health crisis, which looks like it will spill over into the next year as well. Among the many things that happened this year, the global travel industry took a great hit when it was understood that the infection has spread across countries and has become a pandemic. As a result of this, international and domestic flights were cancelled, as most countries sealed their borders so as to stop the influx of fresh cases. Travelling, therefore, was out of question for the longest part of the year.
And now new data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has suggested that all these developments have set the global travel industry back 30 years. According to a report in The National, global international arrivals fell by 72 per cent over the first 10 months of 2020 — because of the travel restrictions, depressed consumer confidence and global efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This has resulted, in what is being called, the worst year on record for global tourism.
In fact, it has been found that around the world, some popular destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, as opposed to the same period last year — resulting in a loss of $935 billion in export revenues. The UNWTO anticipates that by the time 2020 ends — which is in a few days — international arrivals will have declined by 70 to 75 per cent for the whole year – bringing the global travel industry to levels last experienced in 1990!
“Since the start of this crisis, UNWTO has provided governments and businesses with trusted data showing the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global tourism. Even as the news of a vaccine boosts traveller confidence, there is still a long road to recovery,” UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili has said, adding: “We thus need to step up our efforts to safely open borders while supporting tourism jobs and businesses. It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors by this unprecedented crisis.