Study details ’staggering’ Covid losses

Research by hotel-room booking platform Hoo estimates revenue losses across 50 markets based on World Tourism Organisation receipts. Hopes hinge on 'insatiable appetite’ for travel post Covid

HONG KONG, Taiwan, Macau and Malaysia have seen international visitor spending freefall by between 80 to 90 per cent as the global travel industry endures an estimated loss of US$753.6 billion as a result of Covid, according to a new study.

Hotel booking platform Hoo said the global losses were likely to be deeper in the red as its study only covered the Top 50 countries and regions.

Hoo analysed data from the World Tourism Organisation on international tourism receipts from pre-Covid levels in 2019 to data for 2020.

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Figures show that in 2019, international tourism receipts totalled US$1.3 trillion, with the United States accounting for the highest tourism spend at $214.1 billion.

International tourism receipts across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Malaysia suffered the largest losses from the lack of overseas visitors. Hong Kong’s receipts fell by an estimated 90.6 per cent with a loss of $26.3bn on 2019, the biggest drop out of the four.

The Hoo report did not reference the impact of the Hong Kong disturbances of 2019 on the city’s hotel and tourism industry. A comment from Hoo has been requested.

Thailand showed a 63.5 per cent drop with international tourism receipts at $60.5bn in 2019 compared to an estimated $22bn for 2020. Thailand also ranks high in terms of monetary decline with losses put at $38.4bn.

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Singapore’s losses were put at $13.7bn compared to $20bn in pre-Covid 2019.

Japan has also suffered one of the largest declines at 75 per cent while the Republic of Korea’s fell by 63.2 per cent.

India fared best in terms of overall market size. While the country has seen international tourism receipts decline by $2.7bn in 2020, this equates to just a -8.8 per cent drop – the smallest of the 50 countries and regions studied, said a Hoo spokesman.

“The worst hit when looking purely at the monetary decline has been the United States. With the US suffering from widespread political unrest as well as Covid, international tourism receipts have dropped by $125bn to just $89.1bn in 2020.”

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Hoo co-founder Adrian Murdock said: “We’re now starting to get an idea as to the extent of the pandemic’s impact on global tourism over the last year and it’s quite staggering, to say the least.

“It’s fair to say that the industry has been decimated due to Covid, with widespread travel restrictions causing drastic declines in tourism revenue pretty much across the board.

“Unfortunately, as we stand it looks as though things will be getting worse before they get better, with 2021 yet to see a return to normality and bringing even tighter restrictions, if anything.

“There’s no doubt that once these restrictions do lift, there will be an almost insatiable appetite for travel and this will bring an immediate boost to the industry. The question is, how much longer will businesses need to hold on to see those better days?”

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