Covid-19 cost global Travel & Tourism sector almost $4.5 trillion in 2020
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently released research which shows that if international mobility and travel is resumed by June this year, it will significantly boost global and country level GDPs and jobs.
The research was released alongside the WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) which revealed the full devastating impact the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic had on the global Travel & Tourism sector last year, which suffered a massive loss of almost US$4.5 trillion.
The annual EIR from the WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, shows the sector’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 49.1 percent, compared to the overall global economy which dropped by just 3.7 percent last year.
“Vast losses run up during 2020, paint the first full 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,” the WTTC said.
Altogether, the sector’s contribution to global GDP plummeted to US$4.7 trillion in 2020 (5.5 percent of the global economy), from nearly US$9.2 trillion the previous year (10.4 percent).
“With the sector’s contribution to GDP plunging by almost half, it’s more important than ever that Travel & Tourism is given the support needed so it can help power the economic recovery, which will be instrumental in enabling the world to revive from the effects of the pandemic,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said.
Nearly 62m jobs were lost in 2020
In 2019, when global Travel & Tourism was thriving and generating one in four of all new jobs around the world, the sector contributed 10.6 percent (334 million) jobs globally.
However last year, as the pandemic hit Travel & Tourism, nearly 62 million jobs were lost, representing a drop of 18.5 percent, leaving just 272 million employed across the industry globally.
According to the WTTC, the threat persists as many of these jobs are currently supported by government retention schemes and reduced hours, which without a full recovery of Travel & Tourism could be lost.
The report also reveals a shocking loss in international travel spending, which was down 69.4 percent on the previous year.
Domestic travel spending fell by 45 percent, a lower decline due to some internal travel in a number of countries.
The route to recovery
The WTTC is calling for international mobility and travel to resume by June so tourism can begin to recover.
According to the WTTC’s research, the sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise sharply this year, up 48.5 percent year-on-year. The research also shows that its contribution could almost reach the same levels of 2019 in 2022, with a further year-on-year rise of 25.3 percent.
WTTC also predicts that if the global vaccine rollout continues at pace, and travel restrictions are relaxed just before the busy summer season, the 62m jobs lost in 2020 could return by 2022.
WTTC strongly advocates the resumption of safe international travel in June this year, if governments follow its four principles of recovery, which includes a comprehensive coordinated international testing regime upon departure for all non-vaccinated travellers, to eliminate quarantines.
It also includes enhanced health and hygiene protocols and mandatory mask wearing; shifting to individual traveller risk assessments instead of country risk assessments; and continued support for the sector, including fiscal, liquidity and worker protection.
WTTC says the introduction of digital health passes, such as the recently announced Digital Green Certificate, will support the sector’s recovery.
The global tourism body also urges governments around the world to provide a clear and decisive roadmap, allowing businesses time to ramp up their operations in order to recover from the ravages of the pandemic.