Global tourism stands to lose up to $4.8 trillion from COVID-19, UN says

Global tourism revenues are expected to fall by up to $US3.3 trillion ($4.8 trillion) due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the United States standing to lose the most, says a UN study published on Wednesday.

The 'COVID-19 and Tourism' report released by The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is based on three scenarios for the industry, with lockdown measures lasting four months, eight months and 12 months.

In those scenarios, revenues would fall $US1.17 trillion, $US2.22 trillion and $US3.3 trillion respectively or between 1.5 per cent and 4.2 per cent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

The report did not say which scenario was most likely, although an UNCTAD official said the middle scenario "could be a realistic one".

"International tourism has been almost totally suspended, and domestic tourism curtailed by lockdown conditions imposed in many countries," the report said.

"Although some destinations have started slowly to open up, many are afraid of international travel or cannot afford it due to the economic crisis."

The United States incurs the highest losses in all three scenarios, with a $US187 billion drop in the one lasting just four months, followed by China with $US105 billion. Thailand and France also stand to lose approximately $US47 billion each. The US loss in the "pessimistic" scenario is $US538 billion, or 3 per cent of GDP.

Small island states such as Jamaica stand to suffer big losses in proportion to their economies, facing an 11 per cent fall in GDP or $US1.68 billion.

Australia and New Zealand, viewed as one tourism region in the report, didn't feature among the 15 countries and regions likely to be hardest hit by coronavirus restrictions, with estimated losses of $US37 billion to $US108 billion in the worst-case scenario, or between 2 per cent and 6 per cent of their combined GDP.

The UNCTAD report covers 65 individual countries and regions. It calls for governments to boost social protection for affected workers in badly-hit nations.

Some of the estimates are comparable to those in a previous UN report by its World Tourism Organisation in May, which found that tourism numbers could fall by 60 per cent to 80 per cent compared with 66 per cent in UNCTAD's intermediate scenario.

Reuters

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