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Coronavirus Threatens 2020 Int’l Tourist Arrivals

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Friday said it expects a decrease in international tourist arrivals and receipts in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

In an announcement, the UNWTO said it has revised its 2020 prospects for international tourist arrivals to a negative growth between 1 and 3 percent, translating into an estimated loss of $30 to 50 billion in international tourism receipts.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UNWTO predicted a positive growth of 3 to 4 percent for this year.

Warning that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be felt across the whole tourism value chain, the organization called on governments, international organizations and donor agencies to include tourism as a priority in recovery plans and actions.

“The UNWTO calls for financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at tourism, and to include support for the sector in the wider recovery plans and actions of affected economies,” the organization said.

The UNWTO reminded that public health measures for the COVID-19 need to be implemented in ways that minimize any unnecessary disruption to travel and trade. Since the start of the outbreak, UNWTO has been working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure this is the case.

“The WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks,” the UNWTO said.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili furthermore stressed that “small and medium sized enterprises make up around 80 percent of the tourism sector and are particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, including within vulnerable communities, relying on tourism”.

The UNWTO’s first assessment expects that Asia and the Pacific will be the worst affected region, with an anticipated fall in arrivals of 9 to 12 percent. Estimates for other world regions are currently premature in view of the rapidly evolving situation. The UNWTO underlined that any estimate must be treated with caution and is likely to be updated.

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