Coronavirus Impact on the Tourism Industry Worldwide

The world is currently experiencing a pandemic of an infectious disease called coronavirus disease 2019 or mostly known as COVID-19. The pandemic has not only had a significant impact on public health, but it has also severely affected the tourism industry. The tourism industry incorporates many other industries like lodging, transport, attractions, travel companies, and more. It is one of the greatly affected that put its other branches on major setbacks, ranging from closures in the food and drink industry to decreasing guest numbers in the accommodation industry. The pandemic has swept across the globe within a matter of weeks which lead to many countries shutdown, introduced curfews and travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

In 2020, global revenue from the travel and tourism industry is estimated to drop from a forecasted 711.94 billion U.S. dollars to 568.6 billion U.S. dollars, representing a decrease of over 20 percent. While this trend will likely be visible around the world, some regions are predicted to face more substantial blows than others. According to the latest estimates, Asia will see the highest overall drop in travel and tourism revenue in 2020, with China accounting for the lion’s share of lost revenue

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According to the Mobility Market Outlook on COVID-19, the global revenue for the travel and tourism industry will be an estimated 447.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 - a decrease of around 34.7 percent from the previous year. Additionally, this is significantly lower than the original 2020 forecast of around 712 billion dollars.

As the point of origin of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Asia-Pacific region was and continues to be severely affected by COVID-19 and its wide-ranging containment measures. Many of the region’s leading tourist destinations, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, saw a double-digit decrease in tourist arrivals at the beginning of the year. But it is not just the absence of incoming tourists that puts a strain on these regions, as outbound leisure and business travel plans are being similarly compromised. Between January 20 and February 9, 2020, flight bookings decreased by over 57 percent in China. As Chinese nationals have become the most frequent global travelers in the world, this high amount of travel cancellations is hitting the international tourism industry particularly hard.

Its impact was also felt across Europe and the European travel industry. One of Europe’s leading travel destinations, Italy was also one of the most devastated countries. In fact, the country might lose up to 7.7 billion euros in added tourism value this year, depending on the duration of the country’s current lockdown protocols. In Spain, for example, the coronavirus crisis has led to a large number of hotel cancellations over Easter, forcing many hotel chains to close their doors temporarily. In Paris, one of the most-visited cities worldwide, hotel occupancy rates has dropped from 84 percent in January 2020 to a mere 1.8 percent in March. As well as its impact on travel and hospitality, the global pandemic is also taking a heavy toll on the foodservice industry. In the United Kingdom, the government-imposed closure of all pubs and restaurants on March 21 has led to a 100 percent year-over-year change in seated restaurant diners, and as public restrictions are set to remain in place for the weeks to come, the foodservice industry is unlikely to recover anytime soon.

In the United States, the new epicenter of the pandemic, the negative ramifications of the coronavirus on the travel industry are also increasing by the day. Due to the recently imposed travel ban for European visitors, the country estimated a visitor loss of around 850,000 and a visitor spending loss of 3.4 billion U.S. dollars for the month of March alone. Depending on the percentage drop in occupancy, the hotel industry might lose up to 500 billion U.S. dollars in GDP contribution in 2020 and a loss of 6.5 million jobs in the hotel sector, respectively.

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This statistic shows the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide from 1996 to 2018. In 2018, it was estimated that the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide would reach approximately 1.4 billion.

While the long-term economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic cannot fully be assessed yet, the standstill of public life is already affecting not only tourism but also a long list of other industries such as the restaurant business, retail, and the event industry.

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Leisure tourism is the largest sector of the tourism industry. Leisure travel generally consists of taking a vacation from work or everyday life. During vacation, the traveler typically aims to relax, experience new cultures and locations, and broaden their mindset and more, depending on the type of travel chosen. Global leisure tourism spending reached 4,715 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.