UNWTO promotes domestic travel to offset Covid-19 downturn

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Destination Editor
04:00:39 - September 17, 2020

As restrictions on travel begin to ease globally, destinations around the world are focusing on growing domestic tourism, with many offering incentives to encourage people to explore their own countries.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, with domestic tourism set to return faster than international travel, this represents an opportunity for both developed and developing countries to recover from the social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

UNWTO data shows that in 2018, around nine billion domestic tourism trips were made worldwide – six times the number of international tourist arrivals (1.4 billion in 2018).

Recognizing the importance of domestic tourism, the United Nations agency has released the third of its tourism and Covid-19 briefing notes – Understanding Domestic Tourism and Seizing its Opportunities.  The publication identifies ways in which destinations around the world are taking proactive steps to grow domestic tourism, from offering bonus holidays for workers to providing vouchers and other incentives to people traveling in their own countries.

UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “UNWTO expects domestic tourism to return faster and stronger than international travel. Given the size of domestic tourism, this will help many destinations recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, while at the same time safeguarding jobs, protecting livelihoods and allowing the social benefits tourism offers to also return.”

The briefing note also shows that, in most destinations, domestic tourism generates higher revenues than international tourism. In OECD nations, domestic tourism accounts for 75 per cent of total tourism expenditure, while in the European Union, domestic tourism expenditure is 1.8 times higher than inbound tourism expenditure. Globally, the largest domestic tourism markets in terms of expenditure are the United States with nearly 1 trillion USD, Germany with 249 billion USD, Japan 201 billion USD, the United Kingdom with 154 billion USD and Mexico with 139 billion USD.

Given the value of domestic tourism and current trends, increasing numbers of countries are taking steps to grow their markets, UNWTO reports. This new Briefing Note provides case studies of initiatives designed to stimulate domestic demand. These include initiatives focused on marketing and promotion as well as financial incentives.

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