Will the tourism industry ever recover from COVID-19?
The tourism industry has been one of the most decimated industries in 2020 due to COVID-19. Since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic decreased global tourism revenue by approximately $935 billion from the previous year. The U.S. suffered a $150 billion decrease in revenue, the most of any country in the world. With five of the top ten worst affected countries, European tourism also took a hit. Spain accounted for a $46 billion decrease, the most of any European nation. Globally, approximately 121 million jobs out of the 330 million jobs in the tourism industry were lost in 2020.
However, hope remains for increased tourism with two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, approved in the U.S. in December 2020 and another, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, approved in February 2021. Widespread vaccinations will allow customers to begin returning to airplanes, trains, hotels, cruises, concerts and restaurants, thus leading to the rejuvenation of the tourism industry. Still, the outlook is bleaker than what many in the hospitality and service industry are wishing for. The global tourism industry isn’t expected to fully recover until 2024, mainly due to issues with worldwide vaccinations. Many are predicting a recovery of between 50 to 60 percent of the 2019 revenue levels, while some optimists are predicting a recovery of 80 to 85 percent of the 2018 revenue levels this year. Despite these pessimistic predictions, many economists and analysts believe that domestic tourism should return to pre-pandemic levels within two years. This is due to fewer travel restrictions, higher business travel, less anxiety, and more available substitute options, like travelling via cars and trains. It is expected that the distribution of the vaccine will ultimately determine the recovery period for the tourism industry. The tourism industry’s recovery will be a long process, requiring the assistance of everyone. We must make sure to adhere to health and government recommendations to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A slower spread and fewer cases will drastically improve the tourism industry as many will start to feel more comfortable traveling again.
While the road to recovery is long, the distribution of vaccinations will lead to an increase in travel. Thus, the tourism industry is well on its way to reaching pre-pandemic levels.
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