LONDON, UK — Just how much did Travel & Tourism lose in 2020? Nearly US$4.5 trillion, says the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
According to its annual Economic Impact Report (EIR), the Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 49.1%, this compared to the overall global economy, which dropped by just 3.7 last year.
Altogether, the sector’s contribution to global GDP plummeted to $4.7 trillion in 2020 (5.5% of the global economy), from nearly $9.2 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% (344 million) jobs globally.
However, as the global pandemic devastated the entire ecosystem of Travel & Tourism in 2020, more than 62 million jobs were lost, representing a drop of 18.5%, leaving just 272 million employed across the industry globally.
SMEs, which make up 80% of all businesses in the sector, were particularly affected. Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was also significant.
The report also reveals a shocking loss in international travel spending, which was down 69.4% on the previous year. Domestic travel spending fell by 45%, a lower decline due to some internal travel in a number of countries.
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 2021, it will significantly boost global and country level GDPs as well as jobs. The sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise up 48.5% year-on-year. The research also shows that its contribution could almost reach the same levels of 2019 in 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 summer season, the 62 million 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 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.
The introduction of digital health passes such as the recently announced Digital Green Certificate will also support the sector’s recovery, says WTTC.