COVID-19 Costs Travel, Tourism Sector $4.5trn

The travel and tourism sector lost almost $4.5 trillion last year as a result of the scourge, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR).

The annual EIR from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, shows the sector’s contribution to GDP dropped 49.1 per cent, this compared to the overall global economy which dropped by just 3.7 per cent 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.

READ ALSO:  Long Road To Airports’ Certification

Altogether, the sector’s contribution to global GDP plummeted to $4.7 trillion in 2020 (5.5 per cent of the global economy), from nearly $9.2 trillion the previous year (10.4 per cent). In 2019, when global travel and tourism was thriving and generating one in four of all new jobs around the world, the sector contributed 10.6 per cent (334 million) jobs globally.

However last year, as the pandemic ripped through the heart of travel and tourism, more than 62 million jobs were lost, representing a drop of 18.5 per cent, leaving just 272 million employed across the industry globally.


South African tourism

These jobs losses were felt across the entire ecosystem of travel and tourism, with SMEs, which make up 80 per cent of all businesses in the sector, particularly affected. Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.

READ ALSO:  NAHCO Appoints Directors, CFO

However, the threat persists as many of these jobs are currently supported by government retention schemes and reduced hours, which without a full recovery of travel and tourism could be lost.

WTTC, which has continually been at the forefront in leading the private sector in the efforts to restore international mobility and rebuild global consumer confidence, has praised governments around the world for their prompt response.

However, the global tourism body fears governments cannot continue to prop up threatened jobs indefinitely and must instead turn to the sector to help its recovery, so it can power the global economic revival by saving businesses and creating much needed new jobs and saving the millions of livelihoods that depend on the sector.

READ ALSO:  Star Orient Aviation Repositions, Expands Board

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

Wole Shadare