Coronavirus cuts Iran tourist arrivals by 72%: UNWTO

November 17, 2020
tourism

TEHRAN – International tourist arrivals to Iran plunged 72% during the first eight months of the year when compared to 2019, the World Tourism Organization reported, highlighting the severe impact of COVID-19 as the main factor.

Restrictions on travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to hit global tourism hard, with the latest data from the UNWTO showing a 70% fall in international arrivals for the first eight months of 2020.

Iran, however, has experienced different rates of downfall for inbound passengers over the past months. In the first three months of 2020 (January, February, March), the tourism industry of the country recorded negative rates of 90, 92, and 94 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year, according to the organization, ISNA reported.

“The fall reached 96 and 97 percent in April and May. And in June, a negative 84% was recorded. But the interesting point in the statistics published by the World Tourism Organization is a steep slope of the improvement of Iran’s tourism arrivals during the last two months, as such growth has leaped 35% in July and August.

Optimistic forecasts, expect the country would achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

According to the newest UNWTO Barometer, international arrivals plunged 81% in July and 79% in August, traditionally the two busiest months of the year and the peak of the Northern Hemisphere summer season. The drop until August represents 700 million fewer arrivals compared to the same period in 2019 and translates into a loss of US$ 730 billion in export revenues from international tourism. This is more than eight times the loss experienced on the back of the 2009 global economic and financial crisis.

“This unprecedented decline is having dramatic social and economic consequences, and puts millions of jobs and businesses at risk,” warned UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “This underlines the urgent need to safely restart tourism, in a timely and coordinated manner”.

Short-lived recovery

All world regions recorded large declines in arrivals in the first eight months of the year. Asia and the Pacific, the first region to suffer from the impact of COVID-19, saw a 79% decrease in arrivals, followed by Africa, and West Asia (both - 69%), Europe (-68%), and the Americas (-65%).

Following its gradual reopening of international borders, Europe recorded comparatively smaller declines in July and August (-72% and -69%, respectively). The recovery was short-lived, however, as travel restrictions and advisories were reintroduced amid an increase in contagions. On the other side of the spectrum, Asia and the Pacific recorded the largest declines with -96% in both months, reflecting the closure of borders in China and other major destinations in the region.

Demand for travel remains largely subdued due to the ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic and low confidence. Based on the latest trends, UNWTO expects an overall drop close to 70% for the whole of 2020.

Rebound expected by Q3 2021

UNWTO’s Panel of Experts foresees a rebound in international tourism in 2021, mostly in the third quarter of 2021. However, around 20% of experts suggest the rebound could occur only in 2022.

Travel restrictions are seen as the main barrier standing in the way of the recovery of international tourism, along with slow virus containment and low consumer confidence. The lack of coordinated response among countries to ensure harmonized protocols and coordinated restrictions, as well as the deteriorating economic environment, were also identified by experts as important obstacles for recovery.

tehrantimes



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