Corona Kills Tourism
Written by Ch. Faisal Mahmood
With the Grace of Almighty Allah, Pakistan’s tourism was moving towards complete revival. There was an influx of high-profile dignitaries who were mesmerized by the beautiful landscape of Pakistan. Last week Her Highness Princess Beatrice, a member of the British royal family, and former prime ministers of Spain and Italy were in Pakistan for a ski trip. Their visit brought Pakistan once again in the international limelight. Good for tourism Pakistan. Her Highness leads a ‘high-level delegation’ on an adventurous heli-skiing trip and by doing this she endorsed Pakistan as the best adventure tourism destination in the world.
Similarly, international bloggers come in and share their travels around the country with all their huge followings, from the mighty K-2 to Coastal highway and from mountain areas of Gilgit-Baltistan to thousands of year-old civilization of Mahergrah Balouchistan
Now, when Pakistan is a completely safe and peaceful country like any other peaceful country of the world and recently Pakistan had the endorsement from one of the most important personalities of the world and that is United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He termed the improved security situation of Pakistan as “absolutely remarkable”, noting that Islamabad, which looked like a “fortress” a few years back had now become a family station for the world body’s staff.
When the tourism experts had been expecting 2020 to be a good year for international tourism. They noted that trade tensions are easing, with economic conditions on the rise in some countries. In addition, events like the 2020 Summer Olympics are taking place in Japan later this year, the spread of the new coronavirus in China has caused big problems for the world travel and tourism industry including Pakistan.
The deadly virus and efforts to contain it may lead to multi-billions of dollars in losses for tourism and keep millions of would-be travelers at home.
Before the outbreak, the United Nations World Tourism Organization was predicting growth of 3 to 4 percent in global tourism this year. Central to those numbers was the promise of an ever-growing number of travelers from China. In 2018, Chinese nationals made nearly 150 million trips overseas and spent $277 billion.
The loss of those tourists is being felt most strongly in Asian countries. Thailand, for example, expects to lose $9.7 billion in income from Chinese travelers through June. That estimate comes from Thailand’s tourism and sports minister.
Countries outside of East Asia are also feeling the loss of Chinese tourists. Australia has announced a travel ban on visitors from mainland China. China was the largest source for international visitors to Australia last year. Around 1.4 million Chinese tourists spent $13.4 billion in the country in 2019.
Italy could lose $5 billion in tourism income this year, notes Demoskopika, a polling agency.
In the United States, Tourism Economics has predicted a 28-percent drop in Chinese visitors. That represents about $6 billion less spent on travel and airfare.
The tourism industry will recover from the losses, as it has from health fears in other years. However, observers are divided about the amount of time that recovery will take.
The World Travel and Tourism Council says it usually takes 19 months for visitor numbers to recover after a virus outbreak. And Tourism Economics expects it will be four years before Chinese tourism to the United States returns to previously expected levels.
The situation for countries like Pakistan is very disappointing because the tourism Pakistan has already suffered a lot due to war against terror and the tourism industry of Pakistan is not in a position to face the economic repercussion of another war, this time war against Coronavirus.