The global tourism industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with $320bn lost in exports in the first five months of the year and more than 120 million jobs at risk, the United Nations chief has said. In an effort to restraint the spread of the virus, countries around the globe have taken expansive measures including imposing travel restrictions, full lockdowns, shutting down airports, and completely sealing their borders, which have adversely affected the global tourism sector. Being the third largest export industry of the world and employing every one out of ten individuals, the negative repercussions have trickled down to most of the developed and developing economies.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a policy briefing video on Tuesday said that international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half because of the global health crisis, which has crippled the world’s economies. He added that, the crisis has been a “major shock” for wealthier developed nations “but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries. The lost revenue may translate into a sharp rise in unemployment in the underdeveloped and developing countries with the potential for wages to drop further.
According to the policy briefing, export revenues from tourism could fall by USD 910 billion to USD 1.2 trillion in 2020 and that could reduce global GDP by 1.5 per cent to 2.8 per cent. Also, the loss of USD 320 billion lost exports from January through May is three times of what was lost during the year 2009 at the height of the last global financial crisis. Small businesses and associated sectors, including food service, hospitality, that provide employment for 144 million workers worldwide are also at risk. In many of the world’s cities, planned travel went down by 80–90%, adversely affecting restaurants, cruises, rental vehicles and many other allied businesses.
Recently the conference, hosted by the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), aimed at providing strategic analyses and guidance for global urban tourism recovery in the post-pandemic era. However, Guterres said tourism is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and the fall in revenues has led to increased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas and the closure of many World Heritage sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods. According to the briefing, some 7% of world tourism relates to wildlife, which grows at the rate of 3% annually, but due to the losses the growth has been drastically reverted to a stagnant point.
A possible long-term impact has been a decline travel and international conferencing, and the rise of their virtual, online equivalents, which raises questions over travel and passenger traffic recovery. The revival of tourism depends upon the evolution followed by the pandemic and the economic situation.
The UN urged countries to mitigate the socioeconomic effects by strategic policies, maximise the use of technology and promote sustainability and green growth to aid recovery.

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