The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector has moved the industry 10 years back, with international arrivals falling by 72% over the first ten months of 2020.
The global body said the restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus, all contributed to the worst year on record in the history of tourism.
According to hospitalitynet.org, the latest tourism data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October when compared with the same period of 2019. This translates into a loss of US$ 935 billion in export revenues from international tourism, more than 10 times the loss in 2009 under the impact of the global economic crisis.
Since the start of this crisis, UNWTO has provided governments and businesses with trusted data showing the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global tourism
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Since the start of this crisis, UNWTO has provided governments and businesses with trusted data showing the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global tourism. Even as the news of a vaccine boosts traveller confidence, there is still a long road to recovery. We thus need to step up our efforts to safely open borders while supporting tourism jobs and businesses. It is ever clearer that tourism is one of the most affected sectors by this unprecedented crisis.”
Based on the current evidence, UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by 70% to 75% for the whole of 2020. In this case, global tourism will have returned to levels of 30 years ago, with 1 billion fewer arrivals and a loss of some US$ 1.1 trillion in international tourism receipts. This massive drop in tourism due to the pandemic could result in an economic loss of US$ 2 trillion in world GDP.
Travel restrictions continue to weigh on the recovery
Asia and the Pacific, the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions to date, saw an 82% decrease in arrivals in the first ten months of 2020. The Middle East recorded a 73% decline, while Africa saw a 69% drop. International arrivals in both Europe and the Americas declined by 68%.
Europe recorded smaller decreases of 72% and 76% in September and October compared to other world regions, following the slight though short-lived recovery in the summer peak months of July and August. The resurgence of the virus across the region has led to the reintroduction of some forms of travel restrictions. However, Europe is the region in which more destinations (91% as of 1 November 2020) have eased such restrictions, mainly among Schengen Member States.
At the other end of the spectrum, Asia and the Pacific continued to record declines of nearly 100% in September and October, reflecting the ongoing closure of borders in China and other major destinations in the region. The Americas has seen a gradual improvement since June with comparatively lower decreases in international arrivals through October.
This reflects the reopening of many destinations in the region, including small island developing states in the Caribbean.
Secretary-General Pololikashvili adds: “A coordinated approach to easing and lifting restrictions on travel whenever is it safe to do so l is essential. This will not only open destinations up to tourism again, but clear and consistent rules between countries will go a long way towards building back trust in international travel and boosting consumer confidence.”
Demand remains weak overall despite a slight improvement in some markets Data on international tourism expenditure continues to reflect very weak demand for outbound travel.
However, some large markets such as the United States, Germany and France have shown some signs of recovery in the recent months. Furthermore, demand for domestic tourism continues to grow in some markets, including both China and Russia.
Looking ahead, the announcement of a vaccine and the start of vaccination are expected to gradually increase consumer confidence. At the same time, a growing number of destinations are easing or lifting restrictions on travel.
According to the latest research from UNWTO, the proportion of closed destinations has dropped from 82% in late April 2020 to 18% in early November (expressed in percentage of international arrivals).
The extended scenarios for 2021-2024 presented by the United Nations specialized agency for tourism point to a rebound by the second half of 2021. Nonetheless, a return to 2019 levels in terms of international arrivals could take between two-and-a-half and four years.
Tourism: South Africa’s Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch, two others pushes global hotel brand to milestone of 1 million rooms despite pandemic
Global hotel brand, Hilton has surpassed the 1 million-room mark, a milestone the company achieved as it continued to weather the coronavirus outbreak.
According to travelpulse.com, the pandemic is one of the biggest challenges Hilton has faced in its 101-year history. The company credits its capital-light business model as one of the reasons it was able to reach its 1 million-room milestone.
The three hotels that pushed Hilton toward 1 million rooms were Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch in South Africa, Tru by Hilton Savannah Airport, Hilton Garden Inn Guizhou Maotai Town in China.
Hilton’s development pipeline continues to move forward with 2,640 hotels and more than 408,000 rooms globally.
“It’s been a year unlike any other, but even in the face of incredible challenges, our team members and owners have proven that travel is an unstoppable force for good,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton. “Thanks to their grit and determination, Hilton has made a difference in the lives of so many and positively impacted communities at a time when our hospitality is needed more than ever–and together we look forward to creating even more meaningful memories in the year ahead.”
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for the travel and tourism industry, and Hilton has developed industry-leading guest innovations to deliver a safe experience to its guests.
Hilton CleanStay was developed in partnership with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol and in consultation with Mayo Clinic.
Hilton EventReady builds on the CleanStay promise to set new standards for event cleanliness and customer service, and WorkSpaces by Hilton is a new option for alternative remote working spaces.
Hilton has also enabled guests to make their hotel stay a more contactless experience through the Hilton Honors app giving them the ability to choose their rooms, check-in and out digitally and use their phones as digital keys. Guests have now used Hilton’s Digital Key to open more than 100 million doors worldwide.
Maybe one of its more popular and well-known steps Hilton took to assist Americans in the early stages of the pandemic was the release of its famous DoubleTree by Hilton chocolate-chip-cookie recipe.
Hilton also continued to engage with customers through campaigns such as the “To New Memories” marketing initiative and reached out to communities through an expanded partnership with American Express, its 2020 Hilton Effect Foundation Grants, the Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals and more.