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Empty public spaces are seen on May 13, 2020 in Akaroa, New Zealand, which is normally a popular destination for international cruise ships.

Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Global tourism revenue are expected to fall by up to US$3.3-trillion because of COVID-19 restrictions, with the United States standing to lose the most, 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 four months, eight months and 12 months.

In those scenarios, revenue would fall US$1.17-trillion, US$2.22-trillion and US$3.3-trillion, respectively, or between 1.5 per cent and 4.2 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

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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.”

The U.S. incurs the highest losses in all three scenarios, with a US$187-billion drop in the one lasting just four months, followed by China with US$105-billion. Thailand and France also stand to lose approximately US$47-billion each.

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

The U.S. loss in the “pessimistic” scenario is US$538-billion, or 3 per cent 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 countries.

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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 per cent to 80 per cent compared with 66 per cent in UNCTAD’s intermediate scenario.

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