Tourism faces $1.2-trillion hit from virus: UN

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across all sectors, with the tourism sector one of the hardest hit. The World Travel and Tourism Council is warning the pandemic could cost up to 50 million jobs worldwide in this sector. Courtesy #DStv403

GENEVA - The coronavirus crisis could cost global tourism and related sectors from $1.2 to $3.3-trillion in lost revenue, the United Nations said.

Lockdown restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 have hammered the tourism sector particularly hard, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said in a report.

The world tourism industry is expected to lose at least $1.2-trillion in the best-case scenario, UNCTAD calculated.

READ: Tourism sector urged to use winter season to gear up

In a report entitled "COVID-19 and Tourism: Assessing the Economic Consequences", UNCTAD modelled three scenarios that included the sector's supply chain.

The scenarios are moderate, where a third of annual inbound tourism expenditure is removed, equivalent to a four-month standstill; intermediate, removing two-thirds, equivalent to an eight-month halt; and dramatic, where all expenditure is removed, equivalent to a 12-month shutdown.

In the most optimistic scenario, the world's tourism sector could lose at least $1.2-trillion, or 1.5 percent of global gross domestic product.

READ: IATA head says common set of rules needed to help restart air travel

That rose to $2.2-trillion or 2.8 percent of global GDP during an eight-month halt.

In the most pessimistic scenario, UNCTAD projected losses of $3.3-trillion or 4.2 percent of global GDP.

The report said that unemployment could rise in some countries by more than 20 percentage points and some sectors could almost be wiped out if the standstill lasted an entire year.

READ: Kubayi-Ngubane: Local tourism likely only to start in December

Developing countries are among those set to suffer the steepest losses in GDP terms.

"These numbers are a clear reminder of something we often seem to forget: the economic importance of the sector and its role as a lifeline for millions of people all around the world," said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, UNCTAD's director of international trade.

"For many countries, like the small island developing states, a collapse in tourism means a collapse in their development prospects. This is not something we can afford."