Coronavirus Impacts Tourism Across All Top City Destinations

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed the fragility of the travel and tourism sector globally, with a distressing economic impact on cities. There were no winners or losers in 2020, the pandemic has badly impacted all city destinations as a result of lockdowns, social restrictions and travel bans.

Global inbound arrivals are expected to decline by 56.7% to 637 billion trips in 2020, which is worse than the downturns after the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  City tourism boards have had to rethink their strategies to deal with the downturn in inbound tourism, to focus on the domestic market and increased attention on hygiene and safety.

While Bangkok rose to the world’s leading place in 2019, the prospect of it remaining in the leading position in 2020 looks bleak. Bangkok has been badly impacted by COVID-19 and the rise of anti-government protests and demand for political reforms led to a formal state of emergency being applied.

Top 10 City Destinations: World Ranking 2019 and Expected Rank Movement 2020

Top 10 City Destinations

COVID-19 severely impacted the ranking of cities highly dependent on international arrivals such as New York City, while cities with more dependence on intra-regional travel will maintain their rankings better.

Americas Top 10 City Destinations

Source: Euromonitor International Top 100 City Destinations: Beyond Adversity to Recovery

Seoul was an increasingly popular city destination before the pandemic and is likely to see further boosts in tourism beyond 2020. It benefits from South Korea’s success at managing COVID-19 and the activity of the Korean Tourism Organisation during the pandemic. Their ‘Feel The Rhythm of Korea’ campaign was very popular and went viral. It was positioned to spread joy in a pandemic-impacted world with the hashtag #cheeruptheworld.

Asia Top 10 City Destinations

Source: Euromonitor International Top 100 City Destinations: Beyond Adversity to Recovery

To learn more about our travel research and how travel destinations are looking to future-proof recovery after COVID-19 view our reports: Top 100 City Destinations: Beyond Adversity to Recovery and all Euromonitor International market research on the travel industry.