U.S. Travel & Tourism sector plunges to suffer $766 billion loss in 2020 due to pandemic

Published on : Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) from the World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC in its report revealed the U.S. travel & tourism sector suffered a significant loss of $766 billion in 2020.


In 2019, the U.S. travel & tourism sector accrued a GDP of nearly $1.9 trillion. However, WTTC’s research found that in 2020, a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the industry, the country saw a 41per cent decrease to the sector’s GDP contribution. With the U.S. being the largest Travel & Tourism economy in the world, the country’s recovery plays an important role in the rebound of the sector on a global level.


According to the report, travel & tourism supported more than 16.5 million jobs (10.5% of total U.S. employment) in 2019. In 2020, travel & tourism jobs within the U.S. declined 33.2% to 11.1 million (7.5% of total U.S. employment). Globally, the sector saw a decrease of a staggering 62 million (18.5%) jobs in 2020 alone.


“Travel & Tourism plays a pivotal role in supplying both jobs and financial gains to the overall U.S. economy,” said Gloria Guevara, president/CEO, WTTC. “The industry’s decline due to the pandemic has been felt across the board for families, business owners and tour operators who rely on a thriving sector for their livelihood. A restart of international travel will create more employment opportunities and empower a resurgence of the country’s economy. Our research shows that if mobility and international travel resumes by summer this year, the sector’s contribution to global travel & tourism GDP could rise sharply in 2021.”


International and domestic travel play a key role in the U.S. economy regaining strength. The loss in traveller spend and unemployment, has been felt across the entire country, with Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which make up 80% of all travel & tourism businesses, significantly impacted. Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.


The country’s domestic travel spend saw less of a drastic change with a decrease of 37.1%, while international visitor spend dropped by 76.7% in 2020—decreasing from $181.2 billion in 2019, to just $42.2 billion in 2020.


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