According to the new annual Economic Trends Report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Asia Pacific was the region hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – with the sector’s contribution to GDP dropping a damaging 53.7%, compared to the global fall of 49.1%.
The report reveals the full dramatic impact of travel restrictions designed to curb COVID-19 on the global economy, individual regions, and its job losses worldwide.
International visitor spending across Asia Pacific, fell by 74.4%, as many countries across the region closed their borders to inbound tourists. Domestic spending witnessed a lower but equally punishing decline of 48.1%.
Travel and Tourism employment in the region fell by 18.4%, equating to a shocking 34.1 million jobs.
However, despite this decline, Asia-Pacific remained the largest region for the sector’s employment in 2020, accounting for 55% (151 million) of all global tourism jobs.
WTTC Senior Vice President, Virginia Messina notes “WTTC data has laid bare the devastating impact the pandemic has had on tourism around the world, leaving economies battered, millions without jobs and many more fearing for their future.
“Our annual Economic Trends Report shows just how much each region has suffered at the hands of the crushing travel restrictions brought in to control the spread of COVID-19.
“WTTC believes governments around the world should take advantage of their vaccine rollouts, which could significantly ease travel restrictions on travel, and help power the wider global economic recovery.”
Travel and Tourism’s contribution to GDP in the Middle East decreased significantly in 2020, dropping 51.1%.
While domestic spending declined 42.8%, international spending saw a much steeper fall of 70.3%, in part driven by severe restrictions.
The region, which was highly reliant on international tourism in 2019, saw international spending as a share of total tourism spending drop from 62% of the total in 2019 to just 46% in 2020. However, domestic spending grew in share, from 38% of the total in 2019 to 54% in 2020.
COVID-19 is also proving to be a catalyst in the Travel and Tourism sector’s quest for innovation and the integration of new technologies such as biometrics, which would enable a more seamless traveller experience.
While the pent-up demand for international travel is significant, ever-changing travel restrictions have affected consumer confidence to book.
WTTC advocates the need for an internationally coordinated, consistent, and transparent approach to enable safe travel.
To read the WTTC Economic Trends Report in full, please click here
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