The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has predicted that more than 100 million jobs could return to the travel and tourism industry during 2021.
A strong summer of travel is expected as the sector begins its road to recovery from late March onwards, with many major travel companies reporting a significant rise in forward bookings, according to the WTTC’s latest economic forecast.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, the organisation warned 174 million global travel and tourism jobs were at risk.
However, in its latest analysis, the WTTC’s most optimistic scenario predicts as many as 111 million jobs could be revived – but this would still be 17 per cent below 2019 figures, accounting for 54 million fewer jobs.
This best-case scenario, with travel recovery starting from late March, factors in widespread vaccination programs and a swift adoption of comprehensive test-and-trace regimes, together with continual, strong international coordination from the private and public sectors.
However, the forecast’s more conservative outcome would still see a return of 84 million jobs, but this would be 25 per cent below 2019 levels, with 82 million fewer jobs recovered.
Under this scenario, the recovery of international travel is pushed to the second half of 2021. Vaccines would be rolled out more gradually, slowing down the removal of worldwide travel barriers and restrictions currently in place, while depressing demand to travel and reducing consumer confidence.
WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “We are looking forward to a strong summer of travel, thanks to a combination of mask-wearing, the global vaccination rollout and testing on departure unlocking the door to international travel once more.
“Our latest research supports this and shows there is definitely hope on the horizon for the global travel and tourism sector in the year ahead, with the possible recovery of up to 111 million jobs.
“This projected outcome will come as huge relief and be welcomed as the beginning of the long-awaited recovery, for a sector which has for so long suffered the brunt of hugely damaging travel restrictions.”
However, Guevara warned that the industry must not become complacent, as recovery is not yet a foregone conclusion.
“There is still a long way to go and we will encounter many more bumps in the road ahead,” she said.
“Vaccinations in major source markets, such as the UK and the US, will help us navigate our way out of the pandemic into a world where travel can once again thrive.
“We cannot rely solely upon one solution and the rollout of vaccines to restart international travel. Testing on departure will still be critical to restore travel, while respecting the safe protocols and recovering as many jobs as possible across travel and tourism, and throughout the wider economy.”
The new research revealed that in the best-case scenario, travel and tourism’s contribution to global GDP will fall 17 per cent compared to 2019 figures, to $9.5 trillion. WTTC believes this is achievable with testing on departure, mandatory mask-wearing and the worldwide implementation of vaccination programmes.
And in the more conservative outcome, with a slower recovery, the sector’s contribution will drop by more than one quarter (27 per cent), to $8.4 trillion.
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