Lost tourism jobs and economic contribution could be restored by 2022, WTTC says

Global travel and tourism sector suffered a loss of almost $4.5 trillion in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic

A photo taken on February 28, 2021 shows a deserted Piazza Martiri dell'Olivetta in Portofino, south of Genoa. Venice has turned into a ghost town, the jet-set resort of Portofino on the Ligurian coast is deserted, as is Varenna on the shores of Lake Como: tourism in Italy, the world's fifth-largest destination, is paying a heavy price to the coronavirus pandemic. / AFP / Brigitte HAGEMANN
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The global tourism and travel industry's economic contribution and jobs hit by the pandemic could be restored by 2022 if international travel restarts in June this year.

The 62 million jobs lost in 2020 could return by 2022 if the global vaccine rollout continues at pace and travel restrictions are relaxed just before the busy summer season, the World Travel & Tourism Council said in a report on Thursday.

The sector's contribution to global gross domestic product is expected to rise by 48.5 per cent this year and could almost reach pre-pandemic levels in 2022, with a further year-on-year rise of 25.3 per cent next year, the council said.

"WTTC strongly advocates the resumption of safe international travel in June this year," it said.

The tourism and travel body urged governments to undertake comprehensive, coordinated international testing measures on departure for all non-vaccinated travellers in order to eliminate quarantines. It also called for continued support for the sector, including fiscal, liquidity and worker protection.

"The introduction of digital health passes, such as the recently announced 'Digital Green Certificate', will support the sector's recovery," it said, referring to Europe's health travel pass.

The council also called on 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".

The call for support comes after the sector’s contribution to GDP nearly halved last year. It fell 49.1 per cent in 2020 to $4.7 trillion (5.5 per cent of the global economy) from nearly $9.2tn during the previous year (10.4 per cent of the global economy).

"With the sector’s contribution to GDP plunging by almost half, it’s more important than ever that travel and 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 and chief executive, said.

More than 62 million tourism jobs were lost last year, representing a drop of 18.5 per cent, leaving 272 million employed across the industry globally.

The impact on SMEs, women, youth and minorities in the industry was particularly "significant", the council said.

International travel spending plunged 69.4 per cent in 2020 on the previous year, WTTC said, as the pandemic shuttered borders.

Domestic travel spending fell by 45 per cent.