Tourism is one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. During quarantine lockdowns pleasure travel ceased and business travel was extremely limited, if available at all.
With states gradually reopening, it’s still unclear as to when it will be considered safe to travel the world. Some people may have to postpone special trips or events. For many, the uncertainty leaves them wondering when they will get to return to work — or if they ever will.
Many local economies in the U.S. rely heavily on tourism. And while not technically tourist attractions, college towns rely on the increased commerce from students and parents, plus sporting and other events held on campus. Without students, many college towns seem like ghost towns. They have been virtually abandoned during the quarantine.
Most colleges hope to have students back on campus in the fall, but some local businesses may not be able to wait that long. It may be a different landscape of local commerce when students return.
This graphic visualizes the countries that rely on travel and tourism with the industry representing over 15% of jobs. There are several countries where over 50% of the labor market relies on travel and tourism.
All of the countries that rely on tourism have suffered, and continue to suffer, dramatic losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, the Philippines had 8.3 million visitors. The travel bans are severely impacting the country and have forced more people into unemployment than in any other country in the world. Thailand has been similarly affected.
The global tourism industry contributed $8.9 trillion to the world GDP in 2019, which was 10.3% of the total global GDP. It’s currently unknown when tourism will resume and what the long-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will be.
Airports in Iceland are scheduled to reopen on June 15, 2020. Tourists will receive free COVID-19 testing as they enter the country. This may give us a glimpse of what the future of travel looks like.