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UN: Coronavirus Pandemic Causes 65% Drop in International Travel

2020-9-20

A new report says the coronavirus pandemic caused a 65 percent decrease in international travel during the first six months of 2020.

The World Tourism Organization, an agency of the United Nations, published the report on Tuesday. It noted that the drop in international travel resulted in a loss of $460 billion in export revenues from tourism.

Shopkeepers wait for customers in front of a souvenir shop in the old town as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) heavily affects tourism in Budva, Montenegro, August 8, 2020. (REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic)
Shopkeepers wait for customers in front of a souvenir shop in the old town as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) heavily affects tourism in Budva, Montenegro, August 8, 2020. (REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic)

The loss is five times greater than the loss recorded in 2009 during the international financial crisis.

The organization said in a statement that the U.N. agency estimates it will take between two to four years for tourist arrivals to return to 2019 levels.

The report shows that Asia and the Pacific were the first areas to be affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. They faced the sharpest drop as the number of tourists fell 72 percent during the first half of the year.

Europe had the next largest decrease, falling 66 percent.

North and South America, Africa and Middle East experienced similar levels of decrease.

"This represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries…closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic," the U.N. agency said.

Around the world, countries have recorded decreases of more than 50 percent in international tourism arrivals, threatening millions of jobs and businesses.

The report shows that as of early September, 53 percent of international tourism destinations lifted some travel restrictions.

However, as some countries begin reporting a “second wave” of the coronavirus, those restrictions may return.

The World Tourism Organization estimates that the year 2020 will show an overall decrease of about 70 percent, but that number may rise.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

pandemic – n. a contagious illness that affects many countries

revenue – n. the income from a business

tourism – n. the business of people traveling to place for pleasure

unprecedented – adj. never happened before

destination – n. the place a person or thing is traveling to

wave – n. an occurrence or increase in certain actions