COVID-19 could wipe out 200 million tourism jobs, warns WTTC

Travel & tourism GDP could drop by more than $5.5 trillion

Dubai, UAE
Dubai, UAE

According to research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the knock-on effects of local and global travel bans have deepened, increasing WTTC’s previous estimation of 100.8 million job losses by 96%, to 197 million. 

The numbers are based on a worst-case scenario, where restrictions remain until after the summer months. The virus could wipe US$5.5 trillion off the global travel & tourism GDP, equating to a 62% drop compared to last year. International and domestic arrivals would drop by 73% and 64% respectively in this scenario.

WTTC president & CEO Gloria Guevara said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of so many lives and the devastating impact on families around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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She added: “This terrible virus has also had a crushing global socio-economic impact, which is threatening the jobs of millions of people who very livelihoods depend upon a thriving travel & tourism sector for their survival.”

The aviation industry is one of the worst-hit of all amid the pandemic, though Guevara warned that hotels, destinations, travel agents and similar businesses face “financial ruin” this year.

If restrictions started to ease from this month for regional travel, next month for short-haul travel, from August for mid-haul and from September for long-haul, job losses would shrink to 121.1 million according to WTTC. GDP loss would drop by $3.4 billion and global visitor numbers would fall by 53% for international arrivals and by 34% for domestic arrivals.

The best-case scenario according to WTTC is 98.2 million jobs at risk, a GDP drop of $2.6 billion and visitor numbers dropping by 41% and 26% for international and domestic respectively. This would be the case if restrictions ease from June for short-haul and regional travel; from July for mid-haul and from August for long-haul.

Guevara concluded: “The health and safety of both travellers and those working within the sector are paramount. That’s why we have recommended the opening of ‘travel corridors’ between countries which have controlled the spread of the virus and provided immediate support for the entire travel & tourism ecosystem. This will be vital to kick-start the economic recovery and rebuild the livelihoods of millions of people.”

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