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COVID-19’s Impact On Tourism: Which Countries Are The Most Vulnerable? [Infographic]

While some countries are now finally emerging from lengthy lockdowns, others are still firmly hunkered down in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19. The uncertainty brought about by the pandemic is having enormous repercussions for the global tourism industry in particular and there are serious question marks about whether prime destinations across Europe and North America will receive enough visitors to keep their local industries afloat. As it stands, borders are still closed and airliners remain grounded ahead of the usually busy summer season and even if things do improve, vacations probably won’t be the same, more than likely involving extensive social distancing.

Opening resorts, easing restrictions and welcoming visitors too early could send countries hurtling back to square one, inflicting an even higher toll on their battered economies. The stakes are high ahead of the summer, especially for some of the countries that were hit hardest by the coronavirus such as Spain and Italy. Both are heavily reliant on tourism and they struggled economically even before the crisis with high levels of public debt and unemployment. As a result, they are among the countries most economically vulnerable to the pandemic’s fallout.

The following infographic is based on data from the World Travel & Tourism Council and it shows that travel and tourism contributed 14.3 and 13.0% to Spanish and Italian GDP respectively in 2019. That figure encompasses direct contributions from hotels, travel agents, airlines, restaurants and others as well as the ripple effects generated by a steady volume of tourist spending.

In the United States, travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP is considerably lower at 8.6% of GDP but the impact could still be considerable as the country is at an earlier stage of the pandemic than Spain and Italy. A lot hinges on President Trump’s gradual plan to reopen and whether that leads to a significant increase in infections. Last month, a report from The U.S. Travel Association and Oxford Economics found that an estimated 8 million Americans have already lost their jobs in the tourism industry while direct travel spending is expected to decline by more than $500 billion this year. source 

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