Based on the three UNWTO scenarios published in May 2020 indicating declines of 58% to 78% in international tourist arrivals, latest trends continue to place the expected end year results of international tourist arrivals between -58% to -70%.
Considering the decrease of 70% in arrivals through August and an estimated 75% drop in September, latest trends suggest a decline in international tourist arrivals closer to 70% for the whole 2020.
The outlook is still highly uncertain and volatile as new cases of COVID-19 continue to be reported worldwide (42 million confirmed cases to date, according to the World Health Organization).
Furthermore, many destinations have reintroduced travel restrictions after the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly in Europe.
Some countries have returned to partial lockdowns and curfews, borders remain closed in many countries and some of the major outbound markets such as the United States and China remain at a standstill, all in a context of economic recession in 2020.
According to IMF’s October World Economic Outlook, the global economy would contract by 4.4% in 2020 and partially recover in 2021 (+5.2%).
Consumer confidence is at record lows and prospects remain extremely weak for the period September-December, as expressed by the UNWTO Panel of Experts’ latest survey.
In view of supporting a safe restart of tourism, an increasing number of destinations are putting in place different measures including safety and hygiene protocols, the promotion of domestic tourism and the creation of travel corridors or bubbles.
According to the European Commission, a well-coordinated approach to the adoption of restrictions on freedom of movement is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
In this regard, on 13 October ‘EU ministers reached an agreement that will provide more clarity and predictability on measures that restrict free movement due to the coronavirus pandemic.’
UNWTO calls for the need to reopen tourism in a responsible, safe, coordinated and seamless manner, as travel restrictions are lifted. Restoring confidence and trust in the sector remains crucial.