UN: COVID-19 cost tourist industry $320 bln in first 5 months
CGTN
Terminal C at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., June 9, 2020. /CFP

Terminal C at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., June 9, 2020. /CFP

Devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism sector has suffered losses up to 320 billion U.S. dollars in export revenue during the first five months of 2020, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations (UN) said on Tuesday.

The UN chief said in a policy briefing and video address that tourism is the third largest export sector in the global economy, after fuels and chemicals, and it accounted for seven percent of the global trade in 2019.

File photo of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the UN headquarters in New York City, August 1, 2019. /CFP

File photo of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the UN headquarters in New York City, August 1, 2019. /CFP

The export revenues from tourism could fall by 910 billion U.S. dollars to 1.2 trillion in 2020, which could reduce global GDP by 1.5 to 2.8 percent.

Meanwhile, at least one in 10 of the population works in the tourism sector, whose livelihoods are now at risk due to the pandemic. Guterres said in the briefing that at least 120 million jobs were at risks since the global outbreak.

Aside from the economic losses, the UN chief said that the recession in tourism revenue could also lead to increased poaching in natural reservations while risking the protection of cultural relics as well. 

A commercial area in Beijing, China, August 20, 2020. /CFP

A commercial area in Beijing, China, August 20, 2020. /CFP

"The closure of many World Heritage sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods," said Guterres.

The secretary-general said that tourism, besides boosting economies, also "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 called on the globe to rebuild tourism while having the communities under protection, but also mentioned that the recovery of the sector would depend much on the development of the pandemic and the world economy.