Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Nov 16, 2020
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New WTTC modelling tracks “staggering” US job losses

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the US travel and tourism sector could lose a “staggering 9.2 million jobs” in 2020 if barriers to global travel remain in place.

The WTTC’s latest economic modelling looks at the “punishing impact” of COVID-19 and travel restrictions and its latest data reveals that 7.2 million jobs in the U.S. have been impacted.

And, if there’s no immediate alleviation of restrictions on international travel, as many as 9.2 million jobs – more than half of all jobs in the sector in the U.S. in 2019 – would be lost.

The council has identified the four top priorities which should be addressed, including the adoption of a comprehensive and cost-effective testing regime at departure to avoid transmission, the re-opening of key ‘air corridors’ such as between New York and London, and international coordination.

However, the challenge of restoring safe travels in the new normal is one of the biggest issues facing the US as it grapples with a depressed economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the travel and tourism sector particularly hard.

The WTTC Economic Impact Report for 2019 revealed that Travel & Tourism contributed $1.84 trillion to the U.S. economy and was responsible for more than one in 10 (10.7%) American jobs.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president & CEO, said: “The US government has a real opportunity to lead the international coordination and save millions of jobs globally and across the US.”

Guevara pointed out that: “In 2019, travel and tourism was responsible for almost 17 million jobs, which is more than one in every 10 jobs across the US, so it’s vital we recover as many as possible to power the economic recovery of the country.”

And the WTTC’s boss continued: “Globally, eight out of 10 businesses within travel and tourism are SME’s, employing millions of people around the world, and all of which rely on a thriving travel and tourism sector. It is also one of the most diverse sectors, employing people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, with almost 50% of whom are women and up to 30% youths.”

Guevara said: “We offer to work closely with the U.S. government to recover international travel whilst avoiding transmission, through a four-point list of top priorities.”

And she added: “We need to learn to co-exist with this virus and measures should be in place to reactivate both inbound and outbound travel responsibly and avoid further economic and social hardship.”

Across North America, WTTC research shows that between 10.8 million and 13.8 million jobs within travel and tourism are at serious risk.

Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, said: “The numbers show that restarting global travel is an absolute must from an economic and jobs standpoint, and it can be done safely by embracing health and safety guidance and technologies, which have been widely deployed across the travel industry.”

Dow pointed out that: “Moving away from quarantines and implementing the practices that we know will work — chief among them rapid, reliable and efficient testing, the universal wearing of masks in public, and the use of contactless technologies – will help restore confidence and growth.”

The resumption of international travel will act as a catalyst to re-energise the global economic recovery.

According to WTTC, the four main priorities for the new US administration should be:

  • The re-opening of ‘air corridors’ on vital routes, especially those across the Atlantic to re-establish crucial business travel between major economic hubs
  • The introduction of a testing regime at airports, with globally recognised standards to avoid exporting and importing the virus
  • A commitment to ensure safe and seamless travel, with enhanced health and hygiene measures as well as contactless touchpoints
  • Ensure international coordination to adopt standards that will allow international travel to restart and rebuild consumer confidence.

In 2019, the WTTC report detailed how travel and tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.