Global tourism faces unprecedented challenges

World Travel and Tourism Council has recently outlined what the “new normal” could look like as lockdown rules and travel restrictions are eased, pre-vaccine.
by Tala Ramadan

12 May 2020 | 11:01

Source: by Annahar

  • by Tala Ramadan
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 12 May 2020 | 11:01

Information board displaying cancelled flights at the departure hall at Kansai International Airport on March 10, 2020 in Osaka, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi (Getty Images)

BEIRUT: While tighter constraints on human mobility remain in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, the once-busy airports with thousands of travelers arriving or departing are now transformed into ghost places with deserted hallways.

According to the World Tourism Organization’s latest report, 100% of global destinations continue to have restrictions on travel in place, and 72% have completely closed their borders to international tourism.

“Never before in history has international travel been restricted in such an extreme manner,” the report by UNWTO read.

The impact of COVID-19 has been particularly catastrophic for the travel and tourism sector as statistics on international air travel show the industry coming to an abrupt halt.

The scale of disruption caused by COVID-19 to global tourism is shown in a comprehensive report on travel restrictions from the World Tourism Organization; out of all 217 destinations worldwide, 156 (72%) have placed a complete stop on international tourism according to the data collected as of 27 April 2020. In 25% of destinations, restrictions have been in place for at least three months, while in 40% of destinations, restrictions were introduced at least two months ago. Most importantly, the research also found that no destination has so far lifted or eased travel restrictions.

As the sector undergoes a time of unprecedented disruption, airlines’ passenger revenue is estimated to plunge by $314 billion in total, or 55% from 2019 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association and job losses in the travel industry could reach more than 100 million this year, according to an analysis by World Travel and Tourism Council.

Restrictions Common Across All Global Regions

Breaking the research down by region, UNWTO has found that 83% of destinations in Europe have introduced complete closure of borders for international tourism. In the Americas, this proportion stands at 80%, in Asia and the Pacific it is 70%, in the Middle East it is 62% and in Africa, it is 57%.

Towards a Responsible Re-Opening

While the world tourism remains at a standstill amid discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions, throughout the past two weeks, UNWTO Secretary-General has addressed Ministers of the G20 and of the EU Commission, making the case for tourism to be made a priority as countries look to recover from the crisis.

World Travel and Tourism Council has recently outlined what the “new normal” could look like as lockdown rules and travel restrictions are eased, pre-vaccine. New protocols and standards are being mapped out in collaboration with various associations, among them the UNWTO, the World Health Organization, European Travel Commission, and Iata including global hygiene standards and intensive cleaning regimes in hotels, aircraft, and cruise ships.

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