Global travel expected to fall 10.5% this year, worst on record: Travel Economics

LONDON (Reuters) - International travel is expected to fall at least 10.5% this year, the biggest year-on-year drop as the rapid spread of coronavirus sows chaos across the tourism and leisure sector, according to industry consultancy Tourism Economics.

The latest estimate is a big downgrade from two weeks ago, when the consultancy was using the 2003 SARS outbreak as its benchmark and estimated travel rates would fall by 1.5%.

Under that scenario, the virus would be contained by the end of the first half of the year and travel rates would start to recover by July.

But the market has entered uncharted waters now as governments around the world implement drastic measures to contain the pandemic, causing major disruption to travel.

There are significant downside risks if containment measures are ramped up. In a downside scenario, travel would drop as much as 17.9%, the company, which is part of Oxford Economics, said in a research note.

(GRAPHIC: Global travel - )

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Alex Richardson