The annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) of the World Travel and Tourism Council reveals all the devastating impact that COVID-19 had on the global Travel and Tourism sector last year, which suffered a massive loss of nearly $ 4.5 trillion.
The annual EIR of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, shows that the sector’s contribution to GDP declined by a staggering 49.1%, compared to the global economy in overall, which was only down 3.7% last year.
The enormous losses accumulated during 2020 paint the first complete picture of a sector struggling to survive in the face of crippling travel restrictions and unnecessary quarantines, which continue to threaten the urgent recovery of the world economy.
Overall, the sector’s contribution to global GDP plummeted to $ 4.7 trillion in 2020 (5.5% of the world economy), from nearly $ 9.2 trillion the previous year (10.4%).
In 2019, when Global Travel and Tourism was thriving and generated one in four of all new jobs in the world, the sector contributed 10.6% (334 million) of jobs globally.
However, last year, when the pandemic tore at the heart of Travel & Tourism, more than 62 million jobs were lost, representing a drop of 18.5%, leaving only 272 million employees in the entire industry. world level.
These job losses were noted throughout the Travel & Tourism ecosystem, with SMEs, which constitute 80% of all companies in the sector, being particularly affected. Furthermore, being one of the most diverse sectors in the world, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.
However, the threat persists as many of these jobs are currently supported by government retention plans and with reduced hours, which without a full Travel & Tourism recovery could be lost.
The WTTC, which has continuously been at the forefront of the private sector in efforts to restore international mobility and rebuild global consumer confidence, has praised governments around the world for their swift response.
However, the world tourism body fears that governments will not be able to continue propping up threatened jobs indefinitely and that, on the contrary, they must target the sector to contribute to its recovery, so that it can boost the global economic reactivation by saving companies and creating much needed new jobs and saving the millions of livelihoods that depend on the sector.
The report also reveals a shocking loss in international travel spending, which was down 69.4% from the previous year. Spending on domestic travel fell 45%, a minor decline due to some internal travel in various countries.
The road to recovery
While 2020 and the winter of 2021 have been ruinous for Travel & Tourism, with millions of people around the world locked out, WTTC research shows that if international travel and mobility resumes in June this year, they will boost significantly global and country GDP, as well as employment.
According to the study, the sector’s contribution to world GDP could increase considerably this year, at 48.5% year-on-year. The research also shows that its contribution could reach almost the same levels of 2019 in 2022, with a new year-on-year increase of 25.3%.
The WTTC also predicts that if global vaccine deployment continues at its pace, and travel restrictions are relaxed just before the busy summer season, the 62 million jobs lost in 2020 could return in 2022.
The WTTC strongly advocates the resumption of safe international travel in June this year, if governments follow its four recovery principles, which include a comprehensive coordinated international departure testing regime for all unvaccinated travelers, to eliminate the quarantines.
It also includes the improvement of health and hygiene protocols and the mandatory use of masks; changing individual traveler risk assessments instead of country risk assessments; and ongoing support to the sector, including tax, liquidity and worker protection.
The WTTC affirms that the introduction of digital health cards, such as the recently announced “Digital Green Certificate”, will support the recovery of the sector.
The world tourism body also urges governments around the world to provide a clear and decisive roadmap, allowing companies time to scale up their operations in order to recover from the ravages of the pandemic.