World tourism falls 70% between January and August, says WTO

The summer months, usually the strongest time in the northern hemisphere, were catastrophic: -81% of tourists in July and -79% in August, said this United Nations agency based in Madrid.

International tourist arrivals fell by 70% worldwide in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the previous year, due to the covid-19 pandemic, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) announced today.

The summer months, usually the strongest time in the northern hemisphere, were catastrophic: -81% of tourists in July and -79% in August, said this United Nations agency based in Madrid.

The drop represents 700 million fewer arrivals and a loss of 730 billion dollars (about 617 billion euros) for the world tourism sector, “that is, a loss eight times greater than that recorded after the financial crisis. 2009, ”said the WTO in a statement.

The Asia-Pacific region, the first to be affected by the pandemic, is the hardest hit (-79%), followed by Africa and the Middle East (-69%), Europe (-68%) and the American continent (-65%).

The decline recorded in the summer months in Europe was slightly less pronounced (-72% in July and -69% in August), but “this recovery was short-lived, given that, in the meantime, new travel restrictions were adopted in a context of increase in contagions ”, underlined the WTO.

For the whole of 2020, the WTO points to a 70% drop in traveler arrivals compared to the previous year and does not foresee a recovery before the end of 2021.

But about 20% of experts questioned by the UN agency dedicated to tourism anticipate a reversal of this trend "only in 2022".

For the WTO, this situation experienced in tourism is due to the slowness in containing the virus, the lack of a coordinated response from different countries to develop common protocols and the deterioration of the economic context.

In 2019, world tourism had registered a 4% growth in arrivals, with France as the first destination, ahead of Spain and the United States.

The covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 1,1 million deaths and more than 43,5 million cases of infection worldwide, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.

The disease is transmitted by a new coronavirus detected in late December 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China.

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