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Thai Tourism to lose up to $47bn

US incurs highest losses, says Unctad study

A waiter works in a beach with a few Western tourists, which is usually full of Chinese tourists, amid fear of coronavirus in Phuket on March 10, 2020. (Reuters photo)

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GENEVA: Global tourism revenues are expected to fall by up to US$3.3 trillion due to Covid-19 restrictions, with Thailand standing to lose $47 billion, according to a UN study published on Wednesday.

The 'Covid-19 and Tourism' report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) is based on three scenarios for the industry, with lockdown measures lasting 4 months, 8 months and 12 months.

In those scenarios, revenues would fall $1.17 trillion, $2.22 trillion and $3.3 trillion respectively, or between 1.5-4.2% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).

The report did not say which scenario was most likely, although an Unctad official said the middle scenario "could be a realistic one".

"International tourism has been almost totally suspended, and domestic tourism curtailed by lockdown conditions imposed in many countries," the report said.

"Although some destinations have started slowly to open up, many are afraid of international travel or cannot afford it due to the economic crisis."

Thailand and France stand to lose approximately $47 billion each, according to the report.

The United States incurs the highest losses in all three scenarios, with a $187 billion drop in the one lasting just four months, followed by China with $105 billion.

Small island states such as Jamaica stand to suffer big losses in proportion to their economies, facing an 11% fall in GDP or $1.68 billion.

The US loss in the "pessimistic" scenario is $538 billion, or 3% of GDP.

The Unctad report covers 65 individual countries and regions. It calls for governments to boost social protection for affected workers in badly-hit nations.

Some of the estimates are comparable to those in a previous UN report by its World Tourism Organization in May, which found that tourism numbers could fall by 60-80% compared with 66% in Unctad's intermediate scenario.

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