The impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on Italy's tourism sector could reach a staggering 100 billion euros ($118 billion), far higher than previous estimates, according to studies.
The studies released on Monday by Confiturismo and Assoturismo,two of Italy's most important industry groups, said the amount converts to more than 6 per cent of the country's GDP at the end of last year, which according to the International Monetary Fund was $2.014 trillion, reports Xinhua news agency.
If accurate, that would mean the tourism sector, which accounted for 13.3 per cent of Italy's GDP last year, will have nearly been cut in half this year.
The studies said that 65 million fewer visitors came to Italy between June and August alone.
"At the end of March we hypothesized that the tourism sector would lose 100 billion euros this year and at the time it seemed like an excessively dramatic vision," Luca Patane, president of Confiturismo, said in a statement.
"But every day we are getting closer and closer to this figure becoming fact."
Monday's figure dwarfs other estimates.
Recently, the World Travel and Tourism Council released an estimate stating the Italian tourism sector would suffer losses of 36.7 billion euros this year, from which the group said the country's economy would not recover for several years.
For their part, Confiturismo and Assoturismo said that without government help the sector could suffer irreparable damage.
They noted that while domestic tourism increased by 1.1 per cent this summer, that was easily offset by a 66 per cent decrease in foreign arrivals.
Italy's tourism sector was completely shut down between March and May because of the country's national coronavirus lockdown.
Italy began easing estrictions in May, but tourism numbers have not recovered.
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