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174m Travel & Tourism jobs could be lost due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, says WTTC

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Research reveals small yet positive job gains, driven by the return of domestic travel in a number of markets

Already in present circumstances, 143m jobs will be impacted

Worst forecast can be avoided if an immediate coordinated response is implemented

New figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveal that despite a slight improvement since June, a staggering 174m Travel & Tourism jobs could be lost in 2020 if barriers to global travel remain in place.

The new figure comes from WTTC’s latest economic data, which looks at the punishing impact of COVID-19, as well as local and global travel restrictions on the Travel & Tourism sector.

If the current restrictions to international travel continue through to the end of 2020 – resulting in a limited recovery – the impact will be devastating, with as many as 174m million jobs lost globally.

Down from the 197m jobs as detailed in the previous study in June, WTTC says this positive gain is in most part driven by the return of domestic travel in countries such as China, which has shown a particularly strong recovery of its domestic market. It has also implemented a comprehensive testing and contact tracing programme, alongside health and hygiene protocols, further contributing to this significant increase.

However, the analysis shows that should current travel restrictions be removed sooner, globally, a staggering 31m jobs could be saved by the end of 2020.

This equates to more than half a million jobs saved every day between now and the end of 2020, which is the equivalent to almost the entire population of the U.S city of Atlanta or the Portuguese city of Lisbon.

Prolonged travel restrictions could also eliminate $4.7 trillion in the sector’s contribution to global GDP, equating to a loss of 53% compared to 2019.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Our latest data reveals the gravity of the long-term negative impact facing the global Travel & Tourism sector, if we don’t work together to resume international travel immediately.

“As travel restrictions around the world remained in place over the summer months, our estimates report an increase from 121m, to 143m jobs lost. In the space of just four months, our study has shown a further 22m jobs under threat worldwide. This is devastating news, and we need international coordinated action now.”

“The sector’s recovery will be delayed even further, with more jobs lost, unless quarantines are replaced with rapid, cost-effective testing at airports on departure, and air corridors. The longer we wait, the more the ailing Travel & Tourism sector faces total collapse.”

Just a few weeks ago, G20 Tourism Ministers hosted more than 45 CEOs and Members of WTTC who, at the request of Saudi Arabia, presented the 100 Million Jobs Recovery Plan to save the already crippled Travel & Tourism sector, and 100m jobs globally.

The game-changing plan was created with input from WTTC Members and covered a range of key initiatives which hinged on securing strong international coordination to re-establish effective operations and restart international travel.

Among other measures, this included  eliminating quarantines and other travel barriers through the implementation of an international testing regime, combined with rigorous health and safety protocols, to enable the world to adapt to living with the COVID-19 virus while minimising the risk of it spreading further.

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, Travel & 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.

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