Probabilistic forecasts using expert judgement: the road to recovery from COVID-19

George Athanasopoulos, Rob J Hyndman, Nikolaos Kourentzes, Mitchell O'Hara‑Wild
(2021) Journal of Travel Research, to appear

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many industries around the world including tourism and policy makers are interested in mapping out what the recovery path will look like. We propose a novel statistical methodology for generating scenario-based probabilistic forecasts based on a large survey of 443 tourism experts and stakeholders. The scenarios map out pessimistic, most-likely and optimistic paths to recovery. Taking advantage of the natural aggregation structure of tourism data due to geographic locations and purposes of travel, we propose combining forecast reconciliation and forecast combinations implemented to historical data to generate robust COVID-free counterfactual forecasts, to contrast against. Our empirical application focuses on Australia, analysing international arrivals and domestic flows. Both sectors have been severely affected by travel restrictions in the form of international and interstate border closures and regional lockdowns. The two sets of forecasts, allow policy makers to map out the road to recovery and also estimate the expected effect of the pandemic.