Effect of COVID-19 on Global Tourism The Full Report (Last Update)

Tourism is a vital sector of the international economy. According to a publication by the World Health Organization, the tourism sector accounts for 29% of the world’s service exports and created approximately 300 million jobs.

In 2020, the tourism industry has suffered from a hiatus as many countries were locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused devastating economic consequences in countries highly dependent on tourism. In this report, we examine the current trends as countries reopen and what effect this will have on the tourism industry.

Download the report of The Effect of COVID-19 on Global Tourism on PDF here.

Effect of COVID-19 on Global Tourism

COVID-19 has caused an economic and health crisis globally. With little known about the virus at the time of the outbreak, strict lockdown measures were the immediate solution to slow the spread of the disease. 

These measures have had a negative impact on the tourism industry with the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimating a loss of $910 million in export revenue and 100 million jobs lost if borders were to reopen in July.

In the Middle East, UAE airlines projected a loss of $6.8 billion dollars and a passenger drop of 31 million according to an article by the Gulf Business in June. According to the World Health Organization data, the UAE saw a surge of COVID-19 cases in May with the highest number of cases reported in 1705.

These eventually dropped to lows of 211 cases in July, leading the UAE to re-open up its borders on July 7. Tourists were required to show PCR results with 96 hours of validity or test for COVID-19 at the airport. They were also required to have valid medical insurance. Unfortunately, cases are steadily rising with a peak of 2258 confirmed cases on October 2.

Days with the highest number of COVID-19 cases per month in the UAE:

  • May 19 – 1705 confirmed cases
  • June 25 – 450 confirmed cases
  • July 5 – 716 confirmed cases
  • August 21 – 461 confirmed cases
  • September 24 – 1083 confirmed cases
  • October 2 – 2258 confirmed cases

COVID-19 cases per month in the UAE:

The UAE is a leading tourist destination with Dubai being among the most visited of the seven Emirates. With summer now over, the cooler months approach, which is normally peak season in Dubai. Check our website for the best Tour Operator in Dubai.

The safety guidelines that the Emirate has put in place to control the spread of the virus include wearing masks on the plane and in every public place. Otherwise, they will face an $817 fine. Sanitizer dispensers are placed everywhere in the city and everyone is expected to use them.

They also have to download the Dubai health app, sign a health declaration form, and agree to thermal scanning. As long as travelers are asymptomatic and strictly follow the guidelines, they do not need to go on quarantine when arrival in Dubai.

With cases spiking up again since September, the Emirate of Dubai is experiencing a second wave of the virus. There might be more strict measures to contain the virus.

Other countries are cautious about easing travel restrictions with only 115 destinations easing restrictions in September, reports the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

This comprises 53% of all worldwide destinations. The remaining 113 destinations continue to have restrictive measures in place. Those that have eased restrictions have low levels of COVID-19 infections compared to others.

  • Advanced economies – 79% of tourism destinations have eased restrictions
  • Emerging economies – 47% of tourism destinations have eased restrictions

Economic Cost on Tourism

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the immense drop in international travel between January and June led to a loss of 440 million international arrivals. This translates to a loss of $460 billion in export revenue from international tourism.

The drop in tourism numbers per region is reported as follows: 

  • Europe – 66% decline
  • Americas – 55% decline
  • Africa – 57% decline
  • The Middle East – 57% decline
  • Asia and the Pacific – 72% decline

Rate of Decline in Tourism

Industries Affected From Low Tourism Numbers

Cruise Industry

The cruise industry has seen hefty losses in share prices. Cruise giant Carnival has seen a 50% drop in market value since the COVID-19 outbreak according to the Market Insider.

This was after two of their ships; the Grand Princess and Diamond Princess had to lock down after passengers contracted the virus.

Months after operations were halted, the cruise line’s German brand, AIDA Cruises, is set to restart operations in October. This will be possible with an onboard medical team specialized in handling COVID-19 cases. Other new measures in place include:

  • Digital health questionnaires
  • Temperature screening
  • Social distancing measures
  • Limiting Capacity
  • Crew temperature checks daily
  • No stops at any ports

Rival cruise lines, the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings formed a joint task force to develop safety standards to restart business as well.

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Airline Industry

A report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that passenger numbers may not recover to 2019 levels until 2023. Domestic flights may recover sooner but international flights will take a while because of the uncertainty about safety in long-distance air travel.

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Efforts are Taken to Support the Tourism Sector

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, countries around the world have started initiatives geared towards restarting tourism.

  • Finland and Italy have approved to give financial support to their national airlines.
  • Brazil and Costa Rica suspended a tax on air passengers and other aviation taxes
  • In Russia, tourism companies and airlines are allowed to postpone tax payments
  • New Zealand will offer a specific support package for Tourism New Zealand. This will be used to promote domestic tourism and prepare promotion campaigns to target international travelers.
  • Kenya set aside a special fund to help restore destination confidence. This will ensure that the country remains a top travel destination.
  • China approved a special fund to relieve the pandemic’s cash crunch pressure on travel agencies
  • In Austria, tourism companies with an active loan before the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for suspension of all loan payments for 2020.
  • In Greece and the Bahamas, they have formed a Crisis Management Committee to promptly respond to crisis and minimize damage to their image as travel destinations.

Countries around the world have taken the initiative to help the tourism industry whether through the pandemic. The current measures in place have helped save the industry and continue operations as we await a vaccine for the virus.

The Sources we relied on building this report

Best Sources:

Other Sources:

  • Markets Insider
  • International Air Transport Association
  • Gulf Business

To keep updated about COVID-19 and Tourism in general just follow our Dubai Tourism Blog.

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