The tourism global industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with $320 billion lost in exports in the first five months of the year and more than 120 million jobs at risk, the U.N. chief said Tuesday.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a policy briefing and video address that tourism is the third-largest export sector of the global economy, behind fuels and chemicals, and in 2019 it accounted for 7% of global trade.
It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more, he said.
In addition to boosting economies, it allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity, he said.
But the U.N. chief said that in the first five months of 2020, because of the pandemic, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and earnings plummeted.
Guterres said this has been a major shock for richer developed nations but for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.
Tourism for some of those countries represents more than 20% of their GDP, he explained.