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Global tourism facing worst decline on record, UN agency warns

Global tourism facing worst decline on record, UN agency warns
International tourism is likely to shrink as much as 70 percent this year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has predicted. That will make it the biggest fall in tourism since records began in the 1950s.

Secretary-General of the UN tourism agency Zurab Pololikashvili told Handelsblatt newspaper that the situation in the coronavirus-hit sector could put 110 million jobs around the world at risk. He added that while international travel will suffer the unprecedented decline, tourist flows to rural areas may increase, setting a new trend for the next several years.  

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The 70 percent drop is based on the assumption that countries will begin to open their borders in August. While European countries are easing lockdowns and getting ready to reopen borders for holidaymakers this summer, other countries are not eager to follow suit when the virus is still not fully under control. 

While it may take some time before tourism is back on track, the UN agency chief signaled that it may enjoy recovery soon.

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The tourism sector has suffered massive losses due to the coronavirus outbreak, which halted almost all global travel. While some air carriers went bust, others, together with plane manufacturers, fired tens of thousands of people as part of their cost-saving plans to survive the crisis. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism industry accounts for 10.3 percent of global GDP and 330 million jobs worldwide.

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