Tourism has grown steadily and firmly over the last few decades, becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economic sectors. Over the last decade, worldwide tourist arrivals have increased by 59 percent, from 900 million in 2009 to 1.5 billion in 2019. With tourism-specific developments in many national and international destinations, tourism is also vital for socio-economic progress.
In 2019, the tourist business provided $8.9 trillion to global GDP, a contribution of 10.3%. It’s also worth noting that tourism employs one out of every ten people on the planet, or 330 million people.
However, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the robust historical rise had ended in 2020. Since the virus’s spread, travel and tourism have been one of the most affected sectors, with planes grounded, hotels closed, and travel restrictions imposed. The epidemic has reduced international visitor arrivals to a fraction of what they were a year ago in the first quarter of 2020.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Travel and Tourism
To combat the spread of the coronavirus, countries all around the world imposed travel restrictions. Airport closures, incoming and outgoing aircraft suspensions. Statewide lockdowns are just a few of the measures, that governments are taking to help contain the pandemic.
Following the pandemic’s expansion in the last two quarters of 2020. At least 93 percent of the world’s population lived in countries with coronavirus-related travel restrictions. About 3 billion people living in countries with complete border closures to outsiders.
The amount of foreign tourist visitors has increased dramatically over the last decade and has continued to rise in recent years. In 2017, worldwide arrivals totaled 1.3 billion, 1.4 billion in 2018, and 1.5 billion in 2019.
Compared to 2019, international tourism declined by 22% in Q1 and 66% in the first half of 2020, owing to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) outlined three scenarios for anticipated reductions in arrivals of 50 percent to 70 percent in 2020. Depending on the start point of gradual border opening and easing travel restrictions.
According to the UNWTO’s March prediction and September update. The industry could revive in 2021, with domestic demand recovering faster than international demand. Most UNWTO tourism experts expect to see signs of recovery by the third quarter of 2021, but mainly in 2022.
The Decline of Air Travel
According to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) financial prognosis announced in June 2020. Airlines worldwide are predicted to lose $84.3 billion in 2021, resulting in a net profit margin of -20.1 percent. It also predicted a 50% drop in revenue to $419 billion from $838 billion in 2019. Revenues are expected to climb to $598 billion in 2022, reducing losses to $15.8 billion.
“Financially, 2020 and 2021 will go down as the worst years in the history of aviation,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO. Every day this year will add $230 million to the industry’s losses on average. That’s a total loss of $84.3 billion.”
Witnessing how many airlines failed during the coronavirus outbreak is startling. Even for airlines that are still operating, the situation is challenging: for example, US carriers have distributed $10 billion in vouchers due to the pandemic.
Effect on Hospitality Sector
The pandemic’s lockdown has had an impact on the tourism industry all around the world, with the hotel business being one of the hardest hit. When STR compared the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2019. Hotel occupancy rates fell by 96 percent in Italy, 68 percent in China, 67 percent in the United Kingdom. 59 percent in the United States, and 48 percent in Singapore.
There’s no denying that the pandemic and lockdown have had a significant impact on the hotel industry. STR is also analyzing US hospitality statistics, from May 9th to May 11th, 2020. And has found a substantial drop in global hotel performance indicators.
The EU has opened its borders to tourists from 15 countries as of July 2020, leaving the United States off the list. Officials from the Department of Health devised a scheme to designate acceptable countries according to how well they control the coronavirus. When the number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in a country is similar to or below the EU average. The government is termed under control.
The European Commission announced ‘Reopen EU’ on June 15th. A digital platform with critical information for a secure free movement and tourism relaunch across Europe. The software will provide real-time data on border crossings, available modes of transportation, and travel restrictions.
To re-enable tourism, efforts must be taken to ensure that people are and feel comfortable when traveling. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) awards global safety and hygiene, stamps to countries. Demonstrate their commitment to reopening their tourism sectors as they recover from the coronavirus outbreak.
The Safe Travels Stamp was designed by the WTTC, a group that promotes private-sector travel and tourism. To allow travelers to recognize governments and organizations around the world. Followed health and hygiene global standards norms — allowing customers to enjoy ‘Safe Travels.’
Once the WTTC’s health and hygiene guidelines have been applied, eligible institutions such as hotels. Restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, short-term rentals, auto rentals, outdoor shopping, transit, and airports will be permitted to use the stamp.
The ‘Safe Travels’ List included 100 destinations as of September 2020, with Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal, and Mexico. Among the first to receive the stamp and the Philippines as the 100th.
The Return of Tourism Again
As the world’s lockdowns come to an end, numerous countries have begun to relax border restrictions and reopen their borders to international tourists. Even though, many governments continue to advise against “non-essential” foreign travel. Several popular tourist locations have relaxed their Covid-19 border restrictions and are eager to welcome visitors back:
— The European Commission has issued instructions on how its Member States might begin to relax coronavirus travel restrictions and reintroduce tourism.
— The Baltic states are forming a “travel bubble,” which will allow citizens to travel between them freely.
— As soon as it is safe to do so, New Zealand and Australia have pledged to establish a trans-Tasman “COVID-safe travel one. Dubai, the Maldives, Egypt, Lebanon, Croatia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Jamaica have reopened their doors to foreign travelers, with Thailand hoping to do so shortly.
While tourism is steadily recovering in several destinations. Most members of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts predict international tourism to revive only in the fourth quarter of 2021. Those expecting a rebound in the first half of the following year.
However, there are still concerns about the lack of trustworthy information and the deteriorating economic situation. Both are seen as factors weighing on consumer confidence. Particularly in light of the prospect for increased travel restrictions, as the world grapples with more Covid-19 waves. Returning vacationers are causing a “second wave” of coronavirus, wreaking havoc on the global tourism economy.