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The pandemic halved international travel worldwide (infographic)

International tourist arrivals decreased by 56% globally from January to March.

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The pandemic halved international travel worldwide (infographic)
The pandemic halved international travel worldwide (infographic)

This story originally appeared in the World Economic Forum

By Felix Richter, Data journalist, Statista

  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced the international travel and tourism sector to shut down earlier this year.
  • Months later, however, the number of tourists continues to decline, with no signs of improvement.
  • According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals decreased by 56% globally from January to March compared to 2019.

Earlier this year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization released estimates of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international tourist arrivals. The most positive of the three scenarios published in May assumed that travel restrictions would be lifted in July. Even in this scenario, which has already turned out to be overly optimistic as international travel is still severely restricted, the UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to decline by 58 percent this year compared to 2019.

Given the new data released for the first five months of 2020, the UNWTO’s estimates were not far off. As the graph below shows, international tourist arrivals worldwide fell 56% in the five months to May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Given most travel restrictions, they didn’t come into effect until mid-March. You can expect the numbers to look at least as bad, if not worse, when you give the June and July numbers. With the recent surge in new infections in the US and across Europe causing a major setback in efforts to revitalize the ailing tourism sector, millions of people fear for their livelihoods, especially in regions that are heavily dependent on a measure of the influx international tourists.

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