LONDON, 30 March 2021: The World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) released at the weekend shows the global travel and tourism sector suffered a massive loss of almost USD4.5 trillion in 2020.

The annual EIR from the World Travel & Tourism Council
shows travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 49.1%; this
compared to the overall global economy, which dropped by just 3.7% last year.

Vast losses run-up during 2020, paint the first full picture
of a sector struggling to survive in the face of crippling travel restrictions
and unnecessary quarantines, which continue to threaten the urgent recovery of
the world economy.

Altogether, the sector’s contribution to global GDP
plummeted to USD4.7 trillion in 2020 (5.5% of the global economy), from nearly
USD9.2 trillion the previous year (10.4%).

In 2019, when global Travel & Tourism was thriving and
generating one in four of all new jobs around the world, the sector contributed
10.6% (334 million) jobs globally.

However, last year, more than 62 million jobs were lost,
representing a drop of 18.5%, leaving just 272 million employed across the
industry globally.

These jobs losses were felt across every sector, but SMEs,
which make up 80% of all businesses in the travel and tourism sectors, suffered
the gravest losses.

The report also reveals a shocking loss in international
travel spending, which was down 69.4% in the previous year.

Domestic travel spending fell by 45%, a lower decline due to
some internal travel in a number of countries.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara said: “We must
praise the prompt action of governments around the world for saving so many
jobs and livelihoods at risk, thanks to various retention schemes, without
which today’s figures would be far worse.

“However, WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report shows the
full extent of the pain our sector has had to endure over the past 12 months,
which has needlessly devastated so many lives and businesses, large and small.”

The route to recovery

While 2020 and the winter of 2021 have been ruinous for
Travel & Tourism, with millions around the world in lockdown, WTTC research
shows that if international mobility and travel is resumed by June this year,
it will significantly boost global and country-level GDPs – and jobs.

According to the research, the sector’s contribution to
global GDP could rise sharply this year, up 48.5% year-on-year. The research
also shows that its contribution could almost reach the same levels as 2019 by
2022, with a further year-on-year rise of 25.3%.

WTTC also predicts that if the global vaccine rollout
continues at pace and travel restrictions are relaxed just before the busy
summer season, the 62m jobs lost in 2020 could return by 2022.

WTTC strongly advocates the resumption of safe international
travel in June this year if governments follow its four principles of recovery,
which includes a comprehensive, coordinated international testing regime upon
departure for all non-vaccinated travellers, to eliminate quarantines.

It also includes enhanced health and hygiene protocols and
mandatory mask-wearing, shifting to individual traveller risk assessments
instead of country risk assessments, and continued support for the sector,
including fiscal, liquidity and worker protection.