By Max Singh
While popular destinations are slowly reopening and tourism is beginning to pick up in some spots, the COVID 19 pandemic’s impact on the global travel and tourism industry has been devastating. The global tourism industry directly contributed $2.6 trillion to the worldwide GDP in 2018, accounting for 10 percent of global GDP before the outbreak. Statista, an online portal that provides data on the global digital economy, has compiled a list of those countries likely to be worst affected based on 2019 figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Mexico, which lists tourism as 15.5% of GDP, features at the top of Statista’s list. Closely followed by Spain, which has 14.3% of its GDP linked to tourism, tourism accounts for 13% of its GDP in Italy.
A report commissioned by Destination Canada provides an estimate on the effect of COVID 19 on the Canadian tourism sector from a reduction in travel, both international and domestic. This report represented the views of Tourism Economics and is based on their analysis and interpretation of April 13, 2020. It incorporates their assumptions of the potential severity and timeline of the COVID 19 outbreak.
The report revealed Covid-19 will create a 35% decline in travel spending in the whole of 2020, and tourism spending will not surpass 2019 levels until 2022. A Virus Not-Contained forecast expects a 60% decline in travel spending in 2020, and tourism spending will not exceed 2019 levels until 2024 if the virus is not contained in Canada. While top international destinations have been pulling out all the stops to tempt travelers back, it seems it’s going to take time for the industry to rebound, and experts have suggested things may never return to the way they were previously
“I’m not sure if the travel sector will ever be identical to the way it was pre-COVID 19,” says Lori Pennington-Gray, professor and director of the Tourism Crisis Management Initiative at the University of Florida, told CNN travel recently.
“As far as operating at full capacities and with the same volumes, it may take years to get to that. But we know from previous crises that the travel industry is very resilient. “The travel industry will rebound, it just isn’t going to happen tomorrow.”
Top Ten Countries tourism industries most affected by COVID – 19
- The United States and Mexico
With the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases in one country, the United States takes the top spot with a loss of $30 million in tourism revenue after the first four months of 2020. Mexico, which has a historically high number of American and Canadian tourists, saw a devastating loss of almost 15.5% of GDP as its tourism sector collapsed.
By June 2020, Spain was reporting a 98-percent drop in international arrivals. It took second place for the most tourism dollars lost due to the pandemic as its millions of British tourists and other European travelers have disappeared.
France is the most-visited country in the world, playing host to 89 million tourists each year. But, in 2020, COVID-19 cost the country tourism revenue, which positions it third on the list overall and second among the most-impacted countries in Europe.
Thailand, which has done well in keeping COVID-19 contagion at bay, has stated that it doesn’t intend to reopen its borders to international travelers until next year, citing concerns of the continuing risk of infectious visitors.
As part of the Schengen zone that was an earlier epicenter of COVID-19 disease, Germany was among the European countries that locked down its borders. Like many European countries, the pandemic’s recurring waves have led to very cautious relaxations of the rules.
As the virus spread through Europe back in March, Italy quickly became a contagion hub, which forced the entire country into a strict lockdown for several weeks. Increasingly strict rules have made the climb back for tourism very slow to recover.
- United Kingdom
The United Kingdom was one of the few countries that didn’t close its borders or immediately impose a 14-day quarantine restriction on inbound travelers. However, it did finally put one into effect in June. With London a favorite summer destination for international tourists, the city has suffered a significant revenue decline.
Australia lost a significant amount in tourism revenue through April 2020. Amid the second wave of COVID-19 that’s cropped up recently, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said that its unlikely Australia will open its borders to international travel until 2021.
Japan, which had been set to host the now-postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, expected to see some significant revenue from the event’s spectators, athletes, and their entourages. The country lost $5,428 million in just the first four months of 2020.
- Hong Kong
Hong Kong was the first to implement a COVID-19 testing requirement for all incoming air travelers. In the absence of its usual tourism activity, Hong Kong lost $5,020 million in revenue within the first four months of 2020.
Information sources: Destination Canada.com/ World Travel & Tourism Council /Stastica.com/CNN travel/Ketchum.com