Tourism Falls to Lowest Level in 30 Years

Home » Money Management » Economic News » Tourism Falls to Lowest Level in 30 Years

Tourism Falls to Lowest Level in 30 Years

It’s no secret that one of the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the travel sector. From airlines and hotels to attractions and tourist-dependent cities, health concerns and government-mandated restrictions have dried up demand. In fact, new figures show that international travel fell to a 30-year low in 2020.

Through October of 2020, international arrivals fell by more than 900 million — a pace that will likely mean a more than 1 billion drop for the year, landing at around 400 million. For comparison, the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s led to a dip of just 2 million and the 2008-2009 financial crisis led to a drop of 37 million travelers. With 2020’s plummeting arrival numbers, the year was on par with 1990. Additionally, the World Tourism Organization estimates that this contraction of the tourism industry amounted to $935 billion in lost export revenues.

While the world as a whole saw tourism decline 72% year over year, certain regions saw even greater drops. Topping the list was the Asia-Pacific region with an 82% decline in tourism. The Middle East was also slightly above average with a 73% drop. North America actually saw the smallest decrease with 68%, although that was just a hair behind the 69% fall observed in Europe, South America, and Africa.

Of course, it goes without saying that these abysmal figures are the result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While some international travel requiring strict testing and quarantine mandates has been allowed in recent months, most nations have restricted access to foreigners altogether. Moreover, winter spikes along with the spread of what appears to be a more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus have caused some countries and areas to resume stricter lockdown measures.

The good news is that, with several nations now working to approve and distribute vaccines, there’s hope that the tourism industry can rebound in 2021. That said, it’s unclear what a realistic timeline will be for such a resurgence. As World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stated, “Even as the news of a vaccine boosts traveler confidence, there is still a long road to recovery. We thus need to step up our efforts to safely open borders while supporting tourism jobs and businesses.” Pololikashvili concluded, “It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors by this unprecedented crisis.”

Obviously there are more pressing issues than travel at the moment. Nevertheless, the obliteration of the tourism industry over the past year does have far-reaching implications for numerous economies. With that, hopefully the continued roll-out of vaccines will be successful and the world will be able to put the pandemic behind us sooner rather than later.


Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

Other Articles by Jonathan Dyer

Home Lending Tech Platform Roostify Announces $32 Million Funding Round

Another week means another FinTech deal. Today, Roostify announced that it had raised $32 million in its latest round. The Series C was led by Ten Coves Capital with principals at Stone Point Capital as well as returning investors Cota Capital, Mouro Capital, Colchis Capital, Point72 Ventures, and JPMorgan Chase also participating. To date, Roostify has...

Survey Finds 42% of Americans Avoided Large Purchases Last Year

Last year proved to be a financial anomaly in many ways — evidenced by a number of dichotomies that emerged. While the loss of employment and other economic issues impacted many Americans, on the whole, consumers saw increased savings rates and credit card payoffs. Now a new survey from WalletHub looks...

Spirit Airlines Refreshes Co-Branded Credit Card Line-Up

As travelers and travel brands look toward a hopeful future, recent weeks have brought news of both new and refreshed co-branded options. This includes an upcoming U.S.-centric Air Canada card from Chase and a pair of cards from Emirates and Barclays among others. Now, Spirit and Bank of America have...