Drop In U.S. Tourism Hits Countries’ Bottom Lines

The pandemic has dealt a tremendous blow to the global travel and tourism industry and to tourist destination countries. In 2019, $233.4 billion was spent overseas from 99.7 billion international visits by U.S. citizens, according to InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance comparison site. It analyzed data from the U.S National Travel & Tourism Office to find the estimated number of U.S. visits in 2019 for 30 countries to determine how much money they may be missing out on because of the downturn in U.S. tourism over a six-month period in 2020. Tourism also drives millions in promotional products distributor sales in the transportation and lodging industries. According to PPAI’s 2019 Sales Volume Survey, the transportation sector accounted to $726 million in promotional products industry sales, and the lodging industry was responsible for $435.6 million.

“The challenge of mitigating the spread of coronavirus has resulted in a historic financial impact on countries around the world,” says Ronni Kenoian, manager of marketing and ecommerce for InsureMyTrip. “These findings put into perspective the great toll the pandemic continues to have on the travel industry. Our hope is that eventually, as the pandemic wanes, travel will rebound and offset some of these losses.”

The findings reveal Italy is potentially the most impacted by a lack of U.S. tourism and could have lost up to $8.2 billion over six months. The country was visited by 5.6 million Americans in 2019, according to figures from the Italian government. The U.S. is second only to Germany when it comes to the number of annual tourists to Italy. The Italian National Institute of Statistics projects that 60 percent of businesses in the travel industry fear imminent collapse and many did not reopen once restrictions have been lifted.

France is the second most likely to have been affected, with an estimated loss of $8.2 billion due to the U.S. travel restrictions over a six-month period. France received 4.8 million American visitors in 2019 and in total, there were 90 million international visitors, making it a record year for tourism.

Spain is projected to be the third-most heavily impacted country, losing an estimated $5.8 billion in U.S. tourism revenue over six months. In 2019, 3.3 million U.S. tourists visited Spain and the country owes 12 percent of its GDP to tourism. In April alone, tourism expenditure decreased significantly because of a drop of seven million international tourists.

The Bahamas is the only Caribbean island in the top 10—which also includes Germany, China, Japan, the Netherlands, India and Ireland—coming in at seventh position, with an estimated $3.5 billion loss from the lack of U.S. tourism. The Bahamas' move to ban most international travelers, especially Americans, was substantial as 50 percent of the nation's GDP comes from tourism, with the majority from U.S. visitors. In 2019, the Bahamas welcomed their highest number of tourists, with a record 1.45 million from the United States.

The countries which are estimated to experience the lowest financial losses from the U.S. travel ban are Egypt ($467 million), Costa Rica ($315 million) and Romania ($35 million). Of the 3,139,008 international visitors to Costa Rica in 2019, more than half were from North America. However, tourism is only seven percent of the country’s GDP compared to the Bahamas’ 50 percent. InsureMyTrip notes that it’s not surprising that Romania was the least affected by the U.S. travel ban, as the country only received roughly 129,000 U.S. tourists in 2019. Reports show foreign visitor numbers dropped for 14 consecutive months, with research suggesting this could be due to the lack of well-managed tourism attractions in the country and difficult infrastructures for road, rail and accommodation.

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