The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has said it expects international tourist arrivals to fall between one and three per cent this year.
If correct, this could cost US$30-50 billion in lost international tourism receipts.
At the same time, IATA is predicting aviation alone could be hit with a bill of up to US$113 billion.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the UNWTO had predicted growth of three to four per cent in arrivals for this year.
Some 1.46 billion international trips were recorded in 2019.
This first UNWTO assessment expects that Asia and the Pacific will be the worst affected region, with an anticipated fall in arrivals of nine to 12 per cent.
Estimates for other world regions are currently premature in view of the rapidly evolving situation.
UNWTO officials, however underscored any estimate must be treated with caution and is likely to be updated.
Preparing for recovery
As the outbreak continues, the UNWTO called for financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at tourism.
UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, stressed that “small- and medium-sized enterprises make up around 80 per cent of the tourism sector and are particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, including within vulnerable communities, relying on tourism”.
He added: “Political and financial commitments are key to ensure that tourism can lead wider economic and social recovery, as proven in past disruptions on the back of the highly resilient nature of the sector and its ability to bounce back strongly.
“In recent decades, tourism has come of age, and is now firmly established as an important contributor to sustainable development, economic growth, employment and international understanding.
“As the UN agency responsible for tourism and sustainable development, UNWTO stands ready to provide guidance and support for recovery measures of its members, the private and public tourism sector, including organisers of tourism events and fairs.”
Image: Steven Saphore/AAP/PA Images
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