Managing the catastrophic effect of COVID-19 on the tourism industry

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 is causing devastating disruption to people’s lives and global economies.  Many European countries are experiencing lockdown which is expected to last for several weeks into April 2020, possibly longer. Local tour operators should regularly consult reliable sources of information so they can stay informed about the changing situation in Europe.

Demand for travel and tourism has collapsed and there has been an unprecedented decline in air traffic. The World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) latest estimate is that international tourist arrivals could fall by 20-30% in 2020, translating to a decline in international tourist receipts of between US$300-450 billion.

While the current situation remains severe, it is anticipated that the spread of COVID-19 will be halted and countries’ economies will recover in time. Tourism providers should be ready to do business with European buyers once travel restrictions have been lifted and the public feels safe to travel again. 

A range of online resources will help operators stay informed on the situation globally and in Europe:


• The UNWTO has called for urgent action to support tourism recovery following COVID-19. Its article, Tourism and COVID-19, will be updated regularly.
• To keep up to date with the number of cases globally, consult the World Health Organisation interactive map or the Johns Hopkins University interactive map
• The International Air Transport Association (IATA) features the latest information about changes in air traffic.


• The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) is working to support its members during the crisis, lobbying at EU and national level for urgent financial support. 

European market government websites, tourism boards and/or other travel websites are good sources of information to find out about individual measures being taken in each country.


• The Government Department for Foreign Affairs, concerned with international travel.
• Atout France is the French national tourism development agency, in French only. 


• The homepage of The Federal Government has detailed information about COVID-19 in Germany.
• Government Department for Foreign Affairs is concerned with international travel from Germany.
• Germany Travel is Germany’s national tourism board and actively updates its website on travel regulations and restrictions. 


• Ministry of Health features daily updates on the situation in Italy, while the Ministry of Health outlines Travel and Movement restrictions.
• Government Department for Foreign Affairs Crisis Unit issues information on cross-border travel, in Italian only.
• Italia, Italy’s national tourism board, publishes up-to-date information about travel and COVID-19.

The Netherlands

• Government of the Netherlands has official information on the coronavirus situation in the country.
• Government Department for Foreign Affairs provides information about international travel.
• is the official guide for visiting the Netherlands and provides information about COVID-19.


• The Health Department of the Government of Spain provides information about the current situation in the country, partly in Spanish only.
• The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has information about foreign travel.
• Spain’s national tourism board website provides a link to the President’s office at La Moncloa, which gives detailed information on the measures being taken to address the coronavirus. 

United Kingdom

• The Foreign Office gives detailed travel advice about travelling abroad and lists advisories for 225 countries across the world.
• The Department of Health and Social Care outlines the latest information about the coronavirus in the UK. 
• VisitBritain provides the latest tourism-related news and information for UK tourism businesses on COVID-19.The website features links to a range of information and advice.
• The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is a respected source of information for operators and travellers in the UK.  It regularly conducts research and provides up-to-date information about tourism issues. 

This news article was written for CBI by Acorn Tourism Consulting Limited.

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