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International tourist arrivals, 2019 and Q1 2020 percentage change International tourist arrivals, 2019 and Q1 2020 percentage change

UNWTO: International Tourism Numbers Could Fall 60-80 Percent

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a 22 percent fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter (Q1) of this year, the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows.

According to the United Nations specialised agency, the crisis could lead to an annual decline of between 60 percent and 80 percent when compared with 2019 figures. This places millions of livelihoods at risk and threatens to roll back progress made in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, UNWTO, said “The world is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labour-intensive sectors of the economy.”

Available data reported by destinations point to a 22 percent decline in arrivals in the first three months of the year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Arrivals in March dropped sharply by 57 percent following the start of a lockdown in many countries, as well as the widespread introduction of travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders. This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about USD80 billion in receipts (exports from tourism).

Although Asia and the Pacific shows the highest impact in relative and absolute terms (-33 million arrivals), the impact in Europe, though lower in percentage, is quite high in volume (-22 million).