In 2019, global travel and tourism contributed an impressive $ 8.9 trillion to global GDP – a figure so big it’s hard to really get a grasp of, but as a helpful point, it looks like it’s complete written: $ 8,900,000,000,000.

It may feel like a lifetime ago, but like crowds were the norm on Brazil’s famous Ipanema Beach.


Then Covid-19 got our heads up and soon we were embroiled in a global pandemic that closed borders, canceled vacations and business trips, greatly reduced flight numbers and devastated tourism and travel-focused businesses of all kinds. The result? In the first ten months of 2020 alone, it cost the tourism industry $ 935 billion in sales worldwide – or, if we stick to our longstanding agency, $ 935 billion.

A considerable part, but which individual countries were hit hardest by the decline in travel? Well placed to research the answer is the visa waiver Official ESTA, who used data from the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Bank to calculate not only the largest loss of revenue by country, but also the highest percentage of GDP lost per country.

Fewer flights and even fewer passengers (but more legroom) are the new normal – but how long?


Given that there are the most widely reported Covid-19 cases in any country, it is perhaps not surprising that the US experienced the biggest drop in tourism revenue, with a staggering loss of $ 147,245 million over that ten-month period In early 2020.

In 2019, travel and tourism made more than that $ 1.1 trillion to the GDP of the USA with around 80 million international tourists. One fast forward each year and both numbers have dropped, resulting in a total loss of $ 147,245 million in revenue from January through October. Since March, travel bans have banned people from traveling to the United States from Great Britain, Ireland, Brazil, China, Iran or the Schengen zone without special exceptions.

With five of the ten worst hit countries, Europe had more than a fair share of problems thanks to Covid, but nowhere more than in Spain less than 20 million Annual visitors (the lowest number in 50 years) in 2020 and a resulting loss in revenue of $ 46,707 million. Just behind is France, the most visited country in the world with an average of more than 89 million tourists a year. Covid-related losses totaled $ 42,036 million.

Countries with the greatest loss of income from tourism due to Covid-19

The 20 countries whose tourism industries were hardest hit by Covid-19.

Official ESTA

If we turn our attention to focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on GDP rather than overall losses, the results are very different and paint a really terrible picture for smaller island nations.

At the top is the famous Macao Gambling Center, a special administrative region of China whose government has imposed strict visitor restrictions on people outside Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. The income from gambling thus decreased 79.3% Year after year in 2020, this caused a percentage GDP loss of 43.1%.

The Caribbean states are particularly hard hit. The Caribbean was particularly dependent on US tourism (typically more than half of all international visitors), registering more than 31 million tourists in 2019, representing 50-90% of most countries’ GDP – numbers that fell significantly with border closings and restrictions in 2020.

Sun beds on the beach

Aruba’s Palm Beach, unusually empty. The decline in tourism has seen the tiny island nation’s GDP … [+] fall almost 40%.


The biggest loser is the postcard Aruba, a tiny island in the Southern Caribbean that welcomes an estimated one million tourists annually. However, in 2020 GDP fell by 38.1%. In third place are the Turks and Caicos Islands, which closed their borders completely to tourists from March 23 to July 22 – a travel ban that cost about $ 22 million a month and resulted in a 37.8 GDP loss % led.

The countries with the largest GDP are falling due to the loss of tourism

The 20 countries whose GDPs were hardest hit by the decline in tourism.

Official ESTA

These numbers undoubtedly make for a pretty grim read. But 2021 is just around the corner and while we are still affected by the pandemic, the global vaccine rollouts offer hope that we can soon regain control of its spread and relax the borders again. And when that time comes, tourism will recover, GDP will increase and we will travel again.