The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic cost the global tourism sector $320 billion in lost revenue during the first five months of 2020.
The amount of revenue lost between January and May is "more than three times the loss during the Global Financial Crisis of 2009," the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization said in the statement.
The number of international tourists dropped by 300 million, or 56%, during the period as lockdown restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 hammered the travel sector, it added.
“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,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.
While tourism is slowly returning in some destinations, the UN body warned that recent upticks of new reported coronavirus cases across Europe and in other countries stand to threaten the progress made.
The United States and China, both major sources of international tourists, are still "at standstill", the UNWTO added.
The last time international tourist arrivals posted an annual decline was in 2009 when the global economic crisis led to a 4% drop.