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– Chronicle

THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) predicts that the global economy could lose more than US$4 trillion due to Covid-19 impact on tourism.

In a statement, the world tourism body said the estimated loss has been caused by the pandemic’s direct impact on tourism and its ripple effect on other sectors closely linked to it.

“The crash in international tourism due to the pandemic could cause a loss of more than US$4 trillion to the global Gross Domestic Product for the years 2020 and 2021, according to an UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) report published on 30 June,” it said.

The report, jointly presented with the UNWTO, says international tourism and its closely linked sectors suffered an estimated loss of US$2,4 trillion last year due to direct and indirect impacts of a steep drop in international tourist arrivals.

The report warns that a similar loss may occur this year and the tourism sector’s recovery will largely depend on the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

“The world needs a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism, taking potential structural changes into account,” UNCTAD acting secretary-general Ms Isabelle Durant was quoted as saying.

With Covid-19 vaccinations being more pronounced in some countries than others, the report says, tourism losses are reduced in most developed countries but worsened in developing countries.

UNWTO secretary-general Mr Zurab Pololikashvili said:

“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, especially in developing countries, many of which are highly dependent on international tourism.”

The report notes that Covid-19 vaccination rates are uneven across countries, ranging from below one percent of the population in some countries to above 60 percent in others.

The tourism sector is expected to recover faster in countries with high vaccination rates such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It is hoped that a return to pre-Covid-19 international tourist arrival levels will not be achieved until 2023 or later.

The main barriers are travel restrictions, slow containment of the virus, low traveller confidence and a poor economic environment.

A rebound in international tourism is expected in the second half of this year. According to UNWTO, international tourist arrivals declined by about one billion or 73 percent between January and December 2020.

In the first quarter of 2021, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer points to a decline of 84 percent.

Developing countries have borne the biggest brunt of the pandemic’s impact on tourism and suffered the largest reductions in arrivals in 2020 which are estimated at between 60 percent and 80 percent. — @okazunga

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