International tourist arrivals in Middle East drop by 40%

The World Tourism Organisation looked at data between January and April

Report, Unwto, Tourist, COVID-19, Coronavirus, World travel & tourism council

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has revealed data suggesting that between January and April this year, international tourist arrivals in the Middle East dropped by 40%.

The Middle Eastern region had a strong 2019, with a 2% increase in arrivals at 61 million. However as UNWTO has found, COVID-19 has had a big affect.



At the regional level, Asia and the Pacific were the first to be hit by the pandemic and the worst hit between January and April, with arrivals down 51% in that period. Europe recorded the second-largest fall, with a 44% drop for the same period, followed by the Middle East, the Americas (-36%) and Africa (-35%).

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Similar to WTTC, UNTWO has laid out three possible scenarios for international tourist arrivals this year.


Lifting travel restrictions on a global level in July would only see a 58% drop in arrivals compared to 70% or 78% if borders open in September or December.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The sudden and massive fall in tourist numbers threatens jobs and economies. It is vital, therefore, that the restart of tourism is made a priority and managed responsibly, protecting the most vulnerable and with health and safety as a the sector’s number one concern. Until tourism’s restart is underway everywhere, UNWTO again calls for strong support for the sector in order to protect jobs and businesses.”

Positively, following Dubai’s announcement it will restart tourism from July 7, the emirate is following the Organisation’s best-case scenario.

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