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Travel and Tourism Could Recover Over 100 Million Jobs in 2021

WTTC predicts a “strong summer of travel” could lead the rebound as the industry comes back from the pandemic

The World Travel and Tourism Council’s latest economic forecast predicts that as many as 111 million global travel and tourism jobs could be regained in 2021. The global body predicts that a “strong summer of travel” would drive job growth, as major travel companies are already reporting a significant rise in bookings.

The Council’s best-case scenario is based on travel beginning to recover in late March, assuming factors such as widespread vaccination programs, mandatory mask wearing and the adoption of comprehensive testing regimes. In that case, the forecast is for the industry recoup over 111 million jobs.

However, this figure is still represents 54 million fewer jobs, 17 percent lower than in 2019. In this case, travel and tourism’s contribution to global GDP will fall to $7.4 trillion, a 17 percent reduction compared to 2019 figures.

On the other hand, a more conservative outlook would result from a slower rollout of vaccines which would further delay governments from easing worldwide travel restrictions.

Under those conditions, the recovery of international travel would be pushed out to the second half of 2021, hampering demand resulting in 84 million jobs being recovered – 25 percent below 2019 levels. The sector’s contribution to global GDP would drop by more than one quarter to $6.5 trillion in this case.

During the height of the pandemic last year, the WTTC had warned that 174 million jobs in the sector were at risk. According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, travel and tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs – 330 million total – making a 10.3 percent contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.

“This projected outcome will come as huge relief and be welcomed as the beginning of the long-awaited recovery, for a sector which has for so long suffered the brunt of hugely damaging travel restrictions,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO.

“But we must guard against complacency as the recovery is not a forgone conclusion. There is still a long way to go and we will encounter many more bumps in the road ahead. Vaccinations in major source markets, such as the UK and the US, will help us navigate our way out of the pandemic into a world where travel can once again thrive.

“We cannot rely solely upon one solution and the rollout of vaccines to restart international travel; testing on departure will still be critical to restore travel while respecting the safe protocols and recovering as many jobs as possible across Travel and Tourism, and throughout the wider economy.”