International tourism dropped by 70% during the first eight months of 2020. Tourism-dependent countries — especially in the Carribean, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region — will face a longer recovery period. For example, in Aruba, tourism accounts for over 80% of GDP, according to the IMF.
Tourism-dependent countries entered the pandemic with limited ability to pivot to other streams of revenue. The IMF notes that diversifying exports could enhance the connection between tourism and other sectors in these countries. Some are even starting to promote domestic tourism and long-term stays. To help manage the financial stress of COVID-19, some governments have also provided training to reskill employees in the travel sector.
Before COVID-19, tourism accounted for more than 10% of global GDP and created over 300 million jobs globally. Although COVID vaccines and travel bubbles can help jumpstart the tourism sector, the IMF states that, “diversifying, shifting to more sustainable tourism models and investing in new technologies could help to shape the recovery.”