Asia Pacific region hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic: WTTC Economic Trends Report
The new annual Economic Trends Report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals that the Asia-Pacific region was hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Asia-Pacific was the worst performing region, with the sector’s contribution to GDP dropping a damaging 53.7%, compared to the global fall of 49.1%.
The WTTC Economic Trends Report said international visitor spending was particularly hard hit across Asia-Pacific, falling by 74.4%, as many countries across the region closed their borders to inbound tourists. Domestic spending witnessed a lower but equally punishing decline of 48.1%. Travel and tourism employment fell by 18.4%, equating to a shocking 34.1 million jobs. Despite the decline, Asia-Pacific remained the largest region for the sector’s employment in 2020, accounting for 55% (151 million) of all global Travel & Tourism jobs.
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President WTTC, said the council’s data has laid bare the devastating impact the pandemic has had on Travel & Tourism around the world, leaving economies battered, millions without jobs and many more fearing for their future. “Our annual Economic Trends Report shows just how much each region has suffered at the hands of the crushing travel restrictions brought in to control the spread of COVID-19,” Messina said. “WTTC believes governments around the world should take advantage of their vaccine rollouts, which could significantly ease travel restrictions on travel and help power the wider global economic recovery.”
The report says the European Travel & Tourism sector suffered the second biggest economic collapse last year, dropping 51.4%. This was in part due to continuing mobility restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. The report showed domestic spending in Europe declined by 48.4% offset by some intra-regional travel, however international spending fell at even sharper rate – by 63.8%. Despite this, Europe remained the top global region for international visitor spending. But employment suffered across the continent, falling 9.3%, equating to a dramatic loss of 3.6 million jobs.
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The WTTC Economic Trends Report shows how the sector enables socio-economic development, job creation and significant positive social impact, including providing unique opportunities to women, minorities and youth. It suggests that the sector will pivot and adapt to ultimately return stronger post COVID-19, identifying trends already gaining traction and exploring the shifts that may be required to sustain travel & tourism in the future.
From a demand perspective, COVID-19 is transforming traveller inclinations and behaviors toward the familiar, predictable, trusted and towards perceived “low risk” destinations. The report says more regional holidays, with extensive research and planning, and the great outdoors, will reign in the short-term.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 is proving to be a catalyst in the travel & tourism sector’s quest for innovation and their integration of new technologies such as biometrics, which would enable a more seamless traveller experience.