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COVID-19 pandemic costs the tourism industry $935bn. in revenue worlwide


As the country with the most reported COVID-19 cases, the United States has suffered the biggest drop in tourism revenue with a total loss of $147,245 million. With the country seeing less than 20 million foreign visitors in 2020, Spain has the second largest revenue loss of $46,707m. has looked into the biggest revenue loss and the highest percentage of GDP lost per country to reveal which countries have been financially impacted the most by the loss of tourism caused by COVID-19.

Travel and tourism is one of the main industries to be gravely affected by COVID-19, leaving many countries with no choice but to close their borders to tourists for months due to the global pandemic outbreak. As a result of these travel bans, huge numbers of flights and holidays were cancelled throughout 2020, leaving world tourism at an all time low. 

In 2019, global travel and tourism contributed $8.9 trillion to the world’s GDP, but due to the pandemic the financial impact of COVID-19 on world tourism resulted in a total revenue loss of $935 billion worldwide in the first ten months of 2020. 

So which countries have been affected the most by COVID-19? 

The countries with the biggest tourism revenue loss due to COVID-19:



Revenue Loss


United States


















United Kingdom









Hong Kong


In 2019, the travel and tourism industry contributed over $1.1 trillion to the GDP of the USA, with the number of international tourist arrivals standing at over 80 million, but with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, they have placed top with a total revenue loss of $147,245 million in the first ten months of 2020. Since March 2020, travel bans have prohibited anyone travelling from the UK, Ireland, Brazil, China, Iran or the Schengen zone to the USA without specific exemptions, having a major impact on tourism revenue.

Europe makes up half of the top 10 most financially impacted countries 
Countries within Europe make up 50% of those which have suffered the biggest losses in tourism revenue, with Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the UK all ranking in the list of the top 10 worst affected. 

With the country seeing less than 20 million foreign visitors in 2020, Spain is the European country with the largest revenue loss of $46,707m. Although tourists were able to visit Spain from the 1st July, travel to the country is now only possible for those in the EU and Schengen-area, creating reductions in tourism once again.

France is the world’s most visited country with over 89 million tourists each year, but the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a total revenue loss of $42,036m. This significant loss makes it the country in the world with the third highest revenue loss caused by the global pandemic and the second highest in Europe.

The countries which have lost the highest % of GDP due to loss of tourism:



% of GDP loss








Turks and Caicos Islands



Antigua and Barbuda






Northern Mariana Islands



St. Lucia











Macao is known for being a hub for gambling, but with the Macao government imposing restrictions on visitors, with the exception of those living in Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan or mainland China, Macao’s gross gambling revenue fell 79.3% year-on-year in 2020. With gaming and gambling a main source of tourism, Macao ranks highest for loss of GDP with a total percentage loss of 43.1%

As a well known luxury holiday destination located in the Southern Caribbean Sea, Aruba usually welcomes an estimated one million tourists to the small island each year. The impact of COVID-19 has caused the country to come in second as it has suffered a 38.1% GDP loss.

The Turks and Caicos Islands closed its borders to tourists from 23rd March 2020 until 22nd July 2020, resulting in the collection of islands becoming the country to face GDP losses of 37.8%. The Turks and Caicos economy is majoritively dependent on US tourism visiting the luxury holiday destination, meaning this travel ban alone is thought to have cost the country an estimated $22 million a month.

The Caribbean makes up half of the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of GDP loss
In 2019, more than 31 million people visited the Caribbean, and more than half of them were tourists from the US. But with COVID-19 causing travel bans all over the world, the number of tourists that once accounted for 50-90% of the GDP for most of the Caribbean countries has significantly decreased.

Countries within the Caribbean make up 50% of those which have suffered the highest percentage loss in GDP, with Turks and Caicos Islands, Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia and Grenada all ranking in the list of the top 10 worst affected. 

Jayne Forrester, Director of International Development at Official ESTA comments: “The past year has been extremely difficult for the travel and tourism industry, with the unpredictable circumstances resulting in countries being forced to close their borders to tourists, often with little notice. As a result, the pandemic has had a huge financial impact on tourism globally, affecting all countries around the world, as well as airlines, travel operators and other hospitality providers in the sector.

“Even as we move into 2021, travel is still hugely unpredictable, with very little certainty on when we may be able to freely travel again, whether for work or leisure purposes. Countries around the world that rely on the tourism industry for their economy and jobs are seeing huge losses in revenue and GDP, and it is devastating to see a total loss of around $935 billion in the first ten months of 2020.

“As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, with vaccine roll outs now getting underway around the world, we can only hope that we can regain some control over the pandemic and ensure that it is safe enough for us to travel once more in order to prevent further losses to one of the largest industries in the world.”

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