What's the importance of tourism to the world's economy?

WION Web Team
Delhi Published: May 15, 2020, 01.42 PM(IST)

File photo a child walks toward the gates of the National Zoo which is closed due to the partial government shutdown. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

While some expect the COVID-19 shock to last around year, the lasting impact on travel is unclear.

The travel industry has borne the brunt of the damage wrought by lockdowns to contain the novel coronavirus as nations have sealed borders and planes have been grounded.

While some expect the COVID-19 shock to last around year, the lasting impact on travel is unclear.

The UN forecasts that the world economy will shrink by 3.2 per cent this year, the sharpest contraction since the 1930s Great Depression.

However, as the realisation dawns that the world will have to learn to live with the virus, governments are keen on kickstarting tourism for economic revival.

European Union is planning to salvage the summer tourist season and is asking member nations to throw open their borders. It has called for unrestricted movement across member states, albeit with safety measures, such as face masks on aeroplanes and social distancing.

Also read: Explained - Coronavirus impact on the tourism industry

The tourism sector accounts for about 10 per cent of the BLOC's economy. Europe’s museums, beaches and plazas have been virtually empty since mid-March under a near-blanket travel halt that has destroyed jobs, pulverised the airline and hospitality sectors and undermined Europe’s cherished principle of free movement in a bid to contain the virus.

Austria and Germany are planning to fully reopen their border on June 15. That will particularly help Austria’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on German visitors. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the aim is to eliminate border controls from June 15 across the Schengen region.

Furthermore, governments are working on individual plans too. The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to one another, creating a coronavirus "travel bubble". This is the first "travel bubble" in Europe since nations began shutting their borders earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

India too is keen to restart tourism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while referring to tourism said that he saw the potential for domestic tourism "but we need to think of the contours of the same".

He said, "We can now focus our strategy in this battle against coronavirus, as should be the case. We have a twofold challenge –- to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually, while adhering to all the guidelines. We will have to work towards achieving both these objectives."

Social-distance travel

Under the European Commission’s proposals, airlines and airports would insist passengers wear masks and reorganise check-ins, dropoffs and luggage pickups to avoid crowds.

The Brussels-based Commission also wants vouchers for cancelled flights or holidays to be valid for at least a year, with protection against bankruptcies, so people would accept them instead of demanding refunds from cash-strapped airlines and travel firms.

It said people should be able to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants or go to beaches - though it stressed the situation would have to be monitored to prevent a new surge in infections.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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