Economist Perspectives

The Challenges of Forecasting During a Pandemic


Economic forecasting is always a challenging task, with many different variables, scenarios and outcomes needing to be considered. However, the past two months have been especially difficult to forecast travel and tourism flows. New travel restrictions and containment measures have been announced on an almost daily basis, necessitating much more frequent reviews of our projections. 

For instance, Tourism Economics’ baseline expectation for global tourist arrivals changed significantly in the weeks that followed our late-February update of the Global Travel Service database (GTS). Our February baseline projection for a decline of 1.5% in global arrivals in 2020 relative to 2019 has worsened considerably, and our most recent baseline points to a fall of 10.5%. However, this is looking increasingly optimistic (that is, like an ‘upside’ scenario), with the downside estimate for a decline of almost 18% appearing more appropriate.

Throughout the coming period of disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Tourism Economics will update our travel forecasts more frequently, in order to reflect the rapidly changing circumstances associated with the pandemic. 

Michael Shoory, Senior Economist

Michael is currently conducting economic impact analysis and custom research projects.

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This will include our Global Travel Service (GTS), Global City Travel (GCT) and International State Travel (IST) databases. The precise frequency will depend on the nature and scale of new developments, though it can be expected to be more regular than the regular schedule of updates (of two to three times per year). Research briefings and analysis are also going to be provided alongside changes in our forecasts, in order to keep our clients updated with our interpretation of the rapidly changing global travel environment.


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