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    Global Tourism Suffered its ‘Worst Year on Record’ in 2020

    International travel dropped by 74% in 2020, leading to a loss of $1.3 trillion in tourism revenue.

    01 Feb 2021

    The latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reveal that global tourism suffered its “worst year on record” in 2020, with international travel dropping by 74% compared to 2019.

    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the collapse of international travel represents a worldwide loss of $1.3 trillion in tourism revenue, according to the data. The unprecedented crash is 11 times more than the loss suffered during the global economic crisis of 2009.

    The pandemic has put 100 to 120 million tourism jobs at risk in 2020.

    The decline in travel affected tourism figures worldwide. Asia and the Pacific saw an 84% decrease in international arrivals in 2020, about 300 million less than in the previous year.

    The Middle East and Africa both recorded a 75% drop in arrivals. In Europe, arrivals declined by 70%, representing over 500 million fewer international tourists, while the Americas saw a drop of 69%.

    UNWTO indicated a pessimistic outlook for the tourism sector in 2021 and a slow recovery in the coming years.

    30% of the UNWTO panel of experts foresee a worsening of global prospects in 2021, while 50% expect a rebound to occur only in 2022.

    UNWTO estimates that it could take two-and-a-half to four years for international tourism to return to 2019 levels.

    Meanwhile, the organization forecasts increasing demand for ”open-air and nature-based tourism” activities and domestic travel as the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.

    In order to accelerate the recovery process, the UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, stressed the importance of ‘the harmonization, coordination, and digitalization of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures, including testing, tracing and vaccination certificates” to promote safe travel.

    The crisis of Morocco’s Tourism Sector

    By August 2020, the COVID-19 induced crisis had caused Morocco’s tourism sector a loss of MAD 18.2 billion ($2 billion) in the first seven months of 2020.

    The number represents a decline of 44.1% in revenue, according to the Directorate of Financial Studies and Forecasts (DEPF).

    For the months of June and July, Morocco’s tourism revenues decreased by 90.1%, while tourist arrivals and overnight stays registered at classified accommodations decreased by 63.5% and 59.1%, respectively.

    In May 2020, Morocco’s minister of tourism Nadia Fettah Alaoui declared that 87% of hotels in Morocco have closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

    A recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that Morocco’s tourism sector is the fourth most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.

    Amid vaccination rollouts, the North African country’s vital sector of tourism expects a slow economic revival with an increase in domestic travel and fewer mobility restrictions.


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