If the war in Ukraine drags on, $14 billion in global tourism revenues could be lost by 2022, according to a report by the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Tourism Market Intelligence and Competitiveness Department.
The report warns that it is still “too early to assess the impact of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, but it does represent a major risk to international tourism that could set back the sector’s already weak and uneven recovery”.
The conflict could slow the recovery despite the lifting or relaxation of travel restrictions by many destinations (a total of 22 countries had lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions as of 22 March 2022).
The military offensive, the report adds, may hinder the return of confidence to the international tourism sector. Outbound markets in the US and Asian countries could be affected, especially with regard to travel to Europe, as these markets are traditionally more apprehensive or risk-averse.
As outbound markets, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for 3% of global international tourism spending in 2020. If this conflict is prolonged, USD 14 billion in global tourism receipts could be lost by 2022.
In 2019, Russian international travel spending reached USD 36 billion and Ukrainian spending USD 8.5 billion. In 2020, these values decreased to US$ 9.1 billion and US$ 4.7 billion, respectively.
As tourist destinations, Russia and Ukraine account for 4% of international tourist arrivals in Europe, but only 1% of Europe’s international tourism receipts.
The importance of both markets is significant for neighbouring countries, but also for European sun and beach destinations. During the crisis, the Russian market gained weight in long-haul destinations such as the Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka.