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On World Tourism Day, Pandemic Hits Industry Hard
Part of the ruins at Syria’s Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. (Xvlun/Wikimedia Commons)

On World Tourism Day, Pandemic Hits Industry Hard

With world tourism reeling from the deleterious effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations is marking World Tourism Day on Sunday. Figures from UNWTO, its tourism body, show that upwards of 120 million direct-tourism jobs are at risk due to the pandemic, while data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development forecasts a loss of up to 2.8% of the global GDP, which could surpass $2 trillion. According to a statement from the UN, some 90% of its World Heritage Sites are closed to the public, “putting humanity’s cultural heritage at risk in all parts of the world.” Sites in the Middle East include Egypt’s pyramids, the Old City of Jerusalem, Jordan’s Petra, Palmyra in Syria and Lebanon’s Baalbek. The crisis is also posing a threat to wildlife and nature conservation efforts, which are supported by tourism revenues. With livelihoods at risk in and around protected areas, cases of poaching and looting are also expected to rise.

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