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UN: Pandemic to Cost Global Tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021

UN: Pandemic to Cost Global Tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021

Monday, 29 November, 2021 - 06:15
Passengers arrive on a flight from London amid new restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at JFK International Airport in New York City, US, December 21, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The coronavirus pandemic will cost the global tourism sector $2.0 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN's tourism body said Monday, calling the sector's recovery "fragile" and "slow".


The forecast from the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization comes as Europe is grappling with a surge in infections and as a new heavily mutated Covid-19 variant, dubbed Omicron, spreads across the globe.


International tourist arrivals will this year remain 70-75 percent below the 1.5 billion arrivals recorded in 2019 before the pandemic hit, a similar decline as in 2020, according to the body.


The global tourism sector already lost $2.0 trillion (1.78 trillion euros) in revenues last year due to the pandemic, according to the UNWTO, making it one of sectors hit hardest by the health crisis.


While the UN body charged with promoting tourism does not have an estimate for how the sector will perform next year, its medium-term outlook is not encouraging.


"Despite the recent improvements, uneven vaccination rates around the world and new Covid-19 strains" such as the Delta variant and Omicron "could impact the already slow and fragile recovery," it said in a statement.


The introduction of fresh virus restrictions and lockdowns in several nations in recent weeks shows how "it's a very unpredictable situation," UNWTO head Zurab Pololikashvili told AFP.


"It's a historical crisis in the tourism industry but again tourism has the power to recover quite fast," he added ahead of the start of the WTO's annual general assembly in Madrid on Tuesday.


"I really hope that 2022 will be much better than 2021."


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