The continued slow recovery of the travel and tourism sector will see its year-on-year contribution to global GDP rise by less than a third in 2021, according to new research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
The WTTC, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, says the sector’s recovery has been hampered by a lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions, and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world that still they hamper many regions of the world.
In 2019, the travel and tourism sector generated almost USD 9.2 trillion for the global economy, however, in 2020, the pandemic brought travel and tourism to a near-complete standstill, resulting in a drop in the 49.1%, which represents a loss of almost USD $ 4.5. trillions.
While the global economy is forecast to receive a modest 30.7% year-on-year increase in Travel & Tourism in 2021, this will only represent $ 1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending.
The economic modeling was performed by Oxford Economics on behalf of WTTC and calculated a baseline scenario based on current global vaccination rollout, consumer confidence, and relaxed travel restrictions in some regions of the world.
Research reveals that, at the current rate of recovery, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the global economy could see a similar moderate year-on-year increase of 31.7% in 2022.
Last year, WTTC revealed the staggering 62 million job loss in Travel & Tourism worldwide, and at the current pace of recovery, jobs will increase just 0.7% this year.
Similarly, research shows an annual increase in more hopeful potential jobs across the industry next year, at a positive 18%.
Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said: “Our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to rebound from the ravages of COVID-19, there are still too many restrictions, uneven implementation of the vaccine, resulting in a slower-than-expected recovery of just under a third this year.
“Last year, 62 million Travel & Tourism jobs were lost worldwide, and our data shows a meager 0.7% this year. While next year looks more positive in terms of the global economy and employment, the current rate of recovery is simply not fast enough and is driven for the most part by domestic travel, which will not achieve a full economic recovery.
“If governments can start looking internationally and supporting travel and tourism with simplified rules to allow safe return from travel, there is an opportunity to save jobs and increase economic wealth.”
According to the research, the contribution of the sector to world GDP and the increase in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if the following measures are met:
Allow fully vaccinated travelers to move freely regardless of their origin or final destination, eliminating complex tiered systems.
The implementation of digital solutions that allow all travelers to easily demonstrate their COVID status, thus speeding up the process at borders around the world.
Recognition of all vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and / or any of the Strict Regulatory Authorities (SRA).
Agreement by all relevant authorities that international travel is safe with improved health and safety protocols.
The future could be brighter
Research shows that if these four vital rules are followed before the end of 2021, the impact on the global economy and employment could be significant.
According to the data, the sector’s contribution to the global economy could increase by 37.5%, reaching $ 6.4 trillion this year (compared to $ 4.7 trillion in 2020).
However, there is still hope if restrictions continue to be lifted and with greater international cooperation, governments could regain almost 19 million jobs before the end of the year (an increase of 6.8%).
The trend continues until next year, when the sector’s contribution to the global economy could experience a 34% year-on-year increase, reaching USD 8.6 trillion, close to 2019, a record year for Travel & Tourism. Similarly, jobs could exceed 2019 levels – a 20.1% year-on-year increase, to more than 349 million.