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Published on Wednesday, June 30, 2021

More than USD4 trillion wiped off global economy due to Covid travel impact






International tourism's crash caused by pandemic could ultimately cause a loss of more than $4 trillion to global GDP for the years 2020 and 2021, an UNCTAD report says.


This estimated loss covers the direct impact on tourism and its ripple effect on other sectors closely linked to it.


The report, jointly presented with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), says international tourism and its reliant sectors suffered an estimated loss of $2.4 trillion in 2020 due to direct and indirect impacts of a steep drop in international tourist arrivals.


A similar loss may occur this year, the report warns, noting that the tourism sector's recovery will largely depend on the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines globally.


"The world needs a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism," UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said.


UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: "Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support tourism's safe restart is critical to the recovery of jobs."


With COVID-19 vaccinations being more pronounced in some countries than others, tourism losses are reduced in most developed countries but worsening in developing countries.


Vaccination rates are uneven across countries, ranging from below 1% of the population in some countries to above 60% in others.


The report says the asymmetric roll-out of vaccines magnifies the economic blow tourism has suffered in developing countries, as they could account for up to 60% of the global GDP losses.


The tourism sector is expected to recover faster in countries with high vaccination rates, such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the United States, the report says.


But experts don't expect a return to pre-Covid-19 international tourist arrival levels until 2023 or later, according to UNWTO.


The main barriers are travel restrictions, slow containment of the virus, low traveller confidence and a poor economic environment.


A rebound in international tourism is expected in the second half of this year, but the UNCTAD report still shows a loss of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion in 2021, compared with 2019 levels.


 

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