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WTTC research reveals global loss of 62 million tourism jobs

WTTC research reveals global loss of 62 million tourism jobs
October 7, 2021

According to new research from the World Travel and Tourism Council, last year saw 62 million jobs lost globally in the travel and tourism sector with their data showing a rise of a meagre 0.7% this year - hampered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world.

The travel and tourism sector’s continued sluggish recovery will see its year-on-year contribution to global GDP rise by less than one third in 2021.The economic modelling was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of WTTC and calculated a baseline scenario based on the current global vaccination rollout, consumer confidence and relaxed travel restrictions in some in regions around the world.

In 2019, the tourism industry generated nearly US$9.2 trillion to the global economy, however in 2020, the pandemic brought tourism to an almost complete standstill which resulted in a 49.1% drop, representing a punishing loss of nearly US$ 4.5 trillion.

While the global economy is set to receive a modest 30.7% year on year increase from tourism in 2021, this will only represent US$1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending.

The research reveals that at the current rate of recovery, Travel and Tourism’s contribution to the global economy could see a similar moderate year on year rise of 31.7% in 2022.

Research shows a more hopeful potential year-on-year jobs rise across the sector next year, by a positive 18%.

WTTC President and Chief Executive, Julia Simpson notes “our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of COVID-19 there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower than expected recovery of just under a third this year.

“Last year, 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost globally, and our data shows a rise of a meagre 0.7% this year. While next year is looking more positive in terms of the global economy and jobs, the current rate of recovery is simply not fast enough and is in the most part driven by domestic travel, which will not achieve a full economic recovery.

“If governments can start looking internationally and support Travel and Tourism with simplified rules to enable the safe return of travel, there is the opportunity to save jobs and boost economic wealth”.

According to the research, the sector’s contribution to global GDP and the rise in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if the following measures are met:

  1. Allow fully vaccinated travellers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination, removing complex tiered systems.
  2. The implementation of digital solutions which enable all travellers to easily prove their COVID status, so in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world.
  3. Recognition of all vaccines authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and/or any of the Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRA).
  4. Agreement from all relevant authorities that international travel is safe with enhanced health and safety protocols.

The future could be brighter

The research shows that if these four vital rules are followed before the end of 2021, the impact on the global economy and jobs could be significant.

According to the data, the sector’s contribution to the global economy could jump by 37.5% - reaching US$ 6.4 trillion this year (compared to US$ 4.7 trillion in 2020).

However, there is still hope if restrictions continue being lifted and with more international cooperation, governments could bring back nearly 19 million jobs before the year ends (up 6.8%).

The trend continues into next year when the sector’s contribution to the global economy could see a year on year rise of 34%, reaching US$ 8.6 trillion, close to 2019, a record year for tourism. Similarly, jobs could surpass 2019 levels - up 20.1% year on year, to more than 349 million.

Image: Koh Samui , Thailand. Credit: Tourism Thailand.

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20th January 2021 - WTTC predicts over 100 million global tourism jobs could be recovered during 2021

17th December 2020 - WTTC releases major new guidelines for Inclusion and Diversity to aid tourism sector

26th November 2020 - WTTC hosts inaugural virtual AGM highlighting importance of international collaboration for COVID recovery

14th October 2020 - WTTC recognises Australia’s COVID Clean Practicing Business Program

1st October 2020 - WTTC releases guidelines for safe return to work

28th September 2020 - WTTC launches new report on tourism’s future in the wake of COVID-19

21st September 2020 - ATEC aligns with WTTC Safe Travel protocols  

19th September 2020 - The Philippines revealed as 100th destination to receive WTTC Safe Travels stamp

4th September 2020 - WTTC launches Safe Travels protocols for adventure tourism

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9th June 2020 - Global tourist destinations sign up to the WTTC  global safety and hygiene stamp

28th May 2020 - WTTC launches world’s first global safety stamp

13th May 2020 - Trip.com Group to oversee WTTC initiative to help revive tourism sector


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