More than 100 million jobs could return to the global travel and tourism sector during 2021, as the world recovers from the crippling COVID-19 pandemic, says the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
A strong summer of travel is expected as the sector begins its road to recovery from late March onwards, with many major travel companies reporting a significant rise in forward bookings. The sector’s revival is backed by WTTC’s latest economic forecast, which gives further hope for the year ahead to businesses and millions of people employed in the sector worldwide.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, WTTC warned 174 million global Travel & Tourism jobs were at risk. However, in its latest analysis, WTTC’s most optimistic scenario predicts as many as 111 million jobs could be revived – but this would still be 17% below 2019 figures, accounting for 54 million fewer jobs.
This best-case scenario, with travel recovery starting from late March, factors in widespread vaccination programmes and a swift adoption of comprehensive test-and-trace regimes, together with continual, strong international coordination from the private and public sectors.
However, the forecast’s more conservative outcome would still see a return of 84 million jobs, but this would be 25% below 2019 levels, with 82 million fewer jobs recovered.
Under this scenario, the recovery of international travel is pushed to the second half of 2021. Vaccines would be rolled out more gradually, slowing down the removal of worldwide travel barriers and restrictions currently in place, while depressing demand to travel and reducing consumer confidence.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO said: “We are looking forward to a strong summer of travel, thanks to a combination of mask wearing, the global vaccination rollout and testing on departure unlocking the door to international travel once more. Our latest research supports this and shows there is definitely hope on the horizon for the global travel sector in the year ahead, with the possible recovery of up to 111 million 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.”
WTTC first predicted the return of the sector through its 100 Million Jobs Recovery Plan, presented at last October’s historic G20 Tourism Ministers meeting, which was attended, for the first time, by 45 WTTC Member CEOs.
The new research revealed that in the best-case scenario, tourism’s contribution to global GDP will fall 17% compared to 2019 figures, to USD 7.4 trillion. WTTC believes this is achievable with testing on departure, mandatory mask wearing and the worldwide implementation of vaccination programmes.