The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have battered the industry and cost a shocking $320 billion just from January to May, a signal of the devastating losses seen in the industry as much of the world remains at home as much as possible.
During 2020’s first five months, the number of tourists dropped by more than half compared to last year according to a UNWTO count, accounting for 300 million missing visitors.
This recorded drop in travel is more than three times as much as the decline counted in 2009 during the global economic crisis, the UNWTO stated, which was the most recent time foreign tourism fell, according to France 24.
While the UNWTO did acknowledge hopeful signs of more people travelling—especially as European countries began to reopen their borders to visitors from some countries this month—recent upticks of new reported coronavirus cases across Europe and in other countries stand to threaten the progress made.
The report specifically named the U.S. and Canada as two countries responsible for many tourists that remain “at standstill,” when it comes to travel, with U.S. travelers still banned from many countries as a result of the high coronavirus infection rate at home.
Earlier this month, the U.N.’s trade and development arm said tourism could lose as much as $2.2 trillion for the whole year.
“This latest data makes clear the importance of restarting tourism as soon as it is safe to do so. The dramatic fall in international tourism places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, the World Tourism Organization’s Secretary-General in a Tuesday statement. “Governments in every world region have a dual responsibility: to prioritize public health while also protecting jobs and businesses.”