International travel fell 65pc in H1, could take four years to recover, UN tourism body says

People with luggage use their phones outside a Covid-19 testing centre at Brussels' Zaventem airport premises, allowing travellers to get rapidly tested, in Zaventem, Belgium September 14, 2020 — Reuters pic
People with luggage use their phones outside a Covid-19 testing centre at Brussels' Zaventem airport premises, allowing travellers to get rapidly tested, in Zaventem, Belgium September 14, 2020 — Reuters pic

MADRID, Sept 16 — International tourist arrivals plunged 65 per cent in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, data from the World Tourism Organisation showed yesterday, translating into an estimated US$460 billion (RM1.9 trillion) loss in export revenues.

Just over half of destinations eased travel restrictions by early September but a return to 2019 levels of tourism could take between two to four years, according to the Madrid-based United Nations' tourism body.

“Safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

A total of 440 million international arrivals were lost between January and June this year, with Asia and the Pacific the hardest-hit region at 72 per cent less tourists than last year.

Europe saw a 66 per cent drop in arrivals, compared to a 57 per cent decline in Africa and the Middle East and 55 per cent in the Americas. — Reuters

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