Tourist arrivals to SL fall by 63.1%, globally 70 %
By Anjali Caldera
Sri Lanka Tourism has seen a 63.1 per cent fall in tourist arrivals for the first nine months of 2020 in comparison to the same period last year, the Monthly Tourist Arrivals Report for September 2020 issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) reported.
The travel restrictions imposed due to the global pandemic which impacted the whole world is the major cause for the downturn in tourist arrivals.
The number of international tourist arrivals for the first nine months (January-September) of 2020 was 507,311. This number was recorded in the first three months of the year (January to March) as there were no tourist arrivals thereafter due to the termination of all passenger flights and ships arriving in Sri Lanka from 18 March 2020. The total tourist arrivals recorded from January to September 2019 was 1,376,312.
As per the latest data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) internationally there has been a 70 per cent fall in tourist arrivals for the first eight months of 2020.
International arrivals plunged 81 per cent in July and 79 per cent in August, which are the peak months for tourists in the Summer Season. The drop until August represents 700 million fewer arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 and translates to a loss of US$ 730 billion in revenue from international tourism. This is more than eight times the loss experienced on the back of the 2009 global economic and financial crisis. Further, this unprecedented decline is causing severe economic consequences, and puts millions of jobs and businesses at risk. Asia and the Pacific, the first region to suffer from the impact of COVID-19, saw a 79 per cent decrease in arrivals, followed by Africa and the Middle East (both – 69 per cent), Europe (-68 per cent) and the Americas (-65 per cent).
Though some regions gradually opened their borders, regions like Europe recorded comparatively smaller declines in July and August (-72 per cent and -69 per cent, respectively), the data revealed. Asia and the Pacific recorded the largest declines with -96 per cent in both months, reflecting the closure of borders in China and India and other major destinations.
The recovery did not last even in the regions where the travel restrictions were lifted as they were reintroduced due to the increase in the spread of the coronavirus.
The demand for travel still remains low as an end to the pandemic is still not in sight and due to the uncertainty that prevails about the date of finding a COVID-19 vaccine.
It is expected, that by the third quarter of 2021, there will be a rebound in international demand for tourism. Yet, around 20 per cent of experts suggest the rebound would occur only in 2022.
Travel restrictions are seen as the main barrier standing in the way of the recovery of international tourism, along with slow virus containment and low consumer confidence.
The lack of coordinated response among countries to ensure protocols and coordinated restrictions, as well as the deteriorating economic environment were also identified by experts as important obstacles for recovery, said the UNWTO.