Travel Statistics from 2020: A Summary of Last Year in Tourism | Orioly

Travel Statistics from 2020: A Brief Summary of Last Year in Tourism

Knowing the travel statistics from 2020 helps you understand the big picture and plan the next steps for your company while waiting for travel restrictions to be lifted.

It’s like they say, big opportunities arise from challenging situations, and data can help you find out those opportunities.

In this article, we cover relevant numbers from last year and we also make a projection for 2021 and beyond.

How big was the damage caused by the pandemic? What does the future hold for the tourism industry? You will find out below.

An overview of the travel statistics from 2020

So far, most data from last year has not been consolidated yet. For that reason, we have grouped the relevant travel statistics from 2020 into three categories:

  • General overview
  • Travel tech
  • Digital marketing

General overview

Man staring the top of a hill representing the analysis of travel statistics from 2020

As you can imagine, the overall scenario is chaotic based on the travel statistics from 2020.

However, data show us that domestic and leisure travel were less impacted and are recovering more quickly. Check out these and other industry numbers:

  1. The international tourist arrivals in 2020 were 381 million travellers, a similar number to 30 years ago. That is -74% compared to 2019 when 1.5 billion tourists traveled abroad. (UNWTO, 2021)
  2. During May last year, 100% of destinations worldwide had implemented COVID-19-related travel restrictions. (UNWTO, 2020)
  3. The Travel & Tourism industry’s revenues reached US$348.8 billion in 2020, that is a drop of 52% compared to 2019. (Aksje Bloggen, 2021)
  4. In 2019, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed 10.4% to global GDP; a share which decreased to 5.5% in 2020 due to ongoing restrictions to mobility. (WTTC, 2021)
  5. In 2020, 62 million jobs were lost, representing a drop of 18.5%, leaving just 272 million employed across the sector globally, compared to 334 million in 2019. (WTTC, 2021)
  6. Domestic visitor spending decreased by 45%, while international visitor spending declined by an unprecedented 69.4%. (WTTC, 2021)
  7. Comparing leisure vs business spending, the first decreased by 49.4%, while business visitor spending was 61.0% lower. (WTTC, 2021)
  8. The number of flights performed globally by the airline industry reached 38.9 million in 2019. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of flights dropped to 16.4 million in 2020. (Statista, 2020)

Travel tech

Woman wearing vr headset in european street virtua travel representing the travel statistics from 2020

Despite the losses in the global GDP, the travel industry did receive investments last year.

Most of it was directed to travel startups. Another highlight in the travel statistics from 2020 is the rising of virtual tours. Take a look at the data:

  1. A total of US$2.4 billion were invested in the Travel & Tourism industry, a decrease of 58.11% compared to 2019 figures. (, 2021)
  2. Investors poured US$1.4 billion of equity fundraising across 57 travel startups during the first three months of 2020. (Skift, 2020)
  3. GetYourGuide secured US$133 million from investors at the end of 2020. The total investment in the company now stands at over US$780 million, while its valuation of over US$1 billion remains the same. (CNBC, 2020)
  4. Monthly searches for virtual travel increased 285% from 8,981 searches per month (SPM) in February 2020 to 25,661 in April 2020. (Compare The Market, 2020)
  5. The global virtual reality market size was valued at US$15.81 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.0% from 2021 to 2028. (Grand View Research, 2021)

Digital Marketing

Marketing reports representing travel statistics from 2020

The world became digital last year. With most people working remotely and social distancing measures in place, the internet usage has increased.

Most businesses have used this lockdown period to update their blogs and put their online presence in order. Because of that and other factors, digital marketing has experienced a boom. Check the statistics:

  1. The average daily time spent consuming content was 6 hours and 59 minutes in 2020, that is the double of 2019. (Forbes, 2020)
  2. The daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide in 2020 was 145 minutes. (Statista, 2021)
  3. The number of social media users increased by more than 10.5% (over 376 million new users) between July 2019 and July 2020, reaching a total of US$3.96 billion. (Review 42, 2021)
  4. In 2020, over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed US$4.2 trillion worldwide. (Statista, 2021)
  5. Despite an initial falloff due to the Covid pandemic, digital advertising spending grew 12.2% year over year in 2020 in the US reaching US$139.8 billion total for the year. (CNBC, 2021)
  6. In the US, social media ad revenues reached US$41.5 billion in 2020, making up nearly 30% of all internet ad revenue. (CNBC, 2021)
  7. In 2020, travel industry digital ad spending in the US was estimated to reach US$3.24 billion, a decline of 41.0% year-over-year (YoY). (Insider Intelligence, 2020)

What does the future hold for the tourism industry?

Travel and future choices concept with blonde young woman travel statistics from 2020

Amidst all the doom and gloom from last year, it seems that the industry is finally giving signs of recovery.

However, the much-anticipated rebound depends mainly on the pace of vaccination, ease of travel restrictions, warm of global economy and resume of the flight industry.

These are the latest numbers and projections for 2021 and next years with a direct and indirect impact on the travel industry recovery:

  1. More than 944 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered across 170 countries. (Bloomberg, 2021)
  2. Around 15.9 million vaccines are administrated daily in the world. At this pace, it would take years to achieve a significant level of global immunity. The rate, however, is steadily increasing, and new vaccines by additional manufacturers are coming to market. (Bloomberg, 2021)
  3. Still 66% of all destinations worldwide are completely or partially closed for international tourism. (UNWTO, 2021)
  4. Domestic tourism is expected to recover by the second half of 2022. That is 1-2 years earlier than outbound travel. Domestic tourism is also expected to recover faster than the hotel and airline sectors. (McKinsey, 2020)
  5. When looking at domestic hotel bookings vs domestic flight bookings and how they’re recovering, by February of 2021, hotels have recovered 40%, where flights were still 60% down. (Sojern, 2021)
  6. This year 22.2 million flights are expected to be performed by the global airline industry. That is an increase of 35.37% compared with 2020. (Statista, 2020)
  7. In the best scenario, there will be a 66% increase in international arrivals for the year 2021 compared to the historic lows of 2020. (UNWTO, 2021)
  8. The combined revenues of the travel and tourism industry are expected to reach US$540bn in 2021. That represents a 54% year-over-year growth. (Aksje Bloggen, 2021)
  9. Klook, a world-leading travel and leisure booking platform, has raised US$200 million in additional funding in January of 2021. (PR Newswire, 2021)
  10. Questo, an award-winning Romanian startup that creates city exploration games, has raised $1.5 million in an investment round led by two funds based in Bucharest in February of 2021. (, 2021)


Based on the travel statistics from 2020, the opportunities created last year for the tourism industry depend on the ability of tour operators to adapt their business to the current travel scenario.

As discussed in this article, domestic travel, leisure travel and technology are the areas more likely to recover first. For that reason, they need more attention from travel company owners.

Orioly can help you with the digital transformation of your business. We offer solutions for online direct sales and booking management for the tours and activity sector. Learn how we can help tour operators grow their online presence here.

Which was the travel statistic from 2020 that surprised you the most?

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