New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has shown more than 197 million jobs could be lost if barriers to global travel remain in place.
The devastating figure comes from the WTTC’s economic modelling, which looked at the impact faced by the travel and tourism sector amid local and global travel restrictions because of COVID-19.
In the worst-case scenario, where restrictions were lifted after the northern hemisphere summer, the impact would be more significant, putting a total of 197.5 million jobs at risk.
This represents an alarming 96 per cent rise from the most recent 100.8 million jobs WTTC had previously estimated to be under threat from the coronavirus pandemic.
However, if these travel restrictions were removed sooner, the research showed it could save a staggering 99.3 million jobs.
The impact of prolonged travel restrictions could also wipe out $5,543 billion in the sector’s contribution to global GDP, equating to a 62 per cent drop compared with 2019.
The WTTC has predicted that, in a worst-case scenario, global international arrivals could suffer a sharp decline of 73 per cent and 64 per cent for domestic arrivals
“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,” WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said.
“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 and tourism sector for their survival.
“The sector’s recovery will be delayed by heavy-handed restrictions just as it emerges from one of the most punishing periods in its history – in addition to the airlines, the entire travel ecosystem will suffer including millions of SMEs.
“Hotels, destinations, travel agents, and others will all be devastated by the economic domino effect of prolonged restrictions on movement, plunging millions of travel businesses and their employees into financial ruin.”
According to the WTTC, a best-case scenario – where restrictions for short-haul and regional travel ease from June, mid-haul from July, and long-haul from August – is achievable, although it would still see the loss of 98.2 million travel and tourism jobs, halving that of the worst-case.
To achieve this, the council is calling for the immediate removal and replacement of any quarantine measures, the adoption of global health and safety protocols – such as its ‘Safe Travels’ initiative – and the implementation of a rapid test and trace strategy to help contain the spread of the virus.
The WTTC is also calling for greater and sustained collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a coordinated global approach to the crisis.
“The health and safety of both travellers and those working within the sector are paramount,” Guevara said.
“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 and tourism ecosystem.
“This will be vital to kick-start the economic recovery and rebuild the livelihoods of millions of people.”
According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism supported one in 10 jobs (330 million in total) during 2019, making a 10.3 per cent contribution to global GDP.
The report also found that the industry generated one in four of all new jobs.
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