Coronavirus: 50 million travel and tourism jobs at risk

The World Travel and Tourism Council predicted that global travel could be adversely impacted by up to 25 per cent this year

A raveller is ready to check in at Arlanda international airport outside Stockholm, where the airport is unusually empty due to concerns over the coronavirus, on March 12, 2020.   - Sweden OUT
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Nearly 50 million jobs in the travel and tourism industry are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

“The Covid-19 outbreak clearly presents a significant threat to the industry as a whole… to those employed within it and those wishing to continue travelling,” said Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive of London-based WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector.

“Figures show the stark impact on the sector with analysis now suggesting that up to 50 million jobs are at risk globally,” she said.

The WTTC said the impact on international travel this year could be equivalent to the loss of three months of global travel and could lead to a reduction in jobs by 12 per cent to 14 per cent. There could be a 25 per cent year-on-year drop in overall business in 2020, it added, without disclosing the exact value.

However, it predicted that the industry could bounce back.

“Travel and tourism [sector] has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger and more robust by taking all necessary measures,” said Ms Guevara.

The WTTC’s members include more than 200 top officials of the world’s leading tourism companies. It works to raise awareness about the industry that supports one in ten jobs globally and generates 10.4 per cent of the global gross domestic product, WTTC said on its website.

Global airlines have also appealed for urgent government financial support after US travel restrictions aimed at combating the coronavirus outbreak.

US President Donald Trump issued a 30-day ban on travel from European countries to the US to stop the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata), a global industry group representing airlines, has appealed governments to help airlines.

In the absence of a “lifeline from governments”, there will be a “sectoral financial crisis piled on top of the public health emergency”, Alexandre de Juniac, Iata's director-general and chief executive, said.

Global airlines will lose $63 billion (Dh231.21bn) to $113bn in passenger revenue this year due to the

coronavirus, the Iata warned, after revising an earlier estimate of a $29.3bn loss last month.

The higher $113bn figure would result from a scenario where the deadly virus spreads more extensively around the world, Iata said in a statement. That equates to a 19 per cent year-on-year decline in bookings, and the financial impact is on the scale of what the industry experienced during the 2009 global financial crisis.

To minimise some pressure, the European Union plans to help airlines cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by suspending an obligation regarding their use of airport slots for at least several months, an EU diplomat told Bloomberg.

The European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, intends to propose a “general waiver” of a requirement that carriers use at least 80 per cent of their take-off and landing positions or risk losing them the following year, the official said on the condition of anonymity.