WTTC predicts 100 million tourism jobs can be revived in 2021

Published on : Thursday, January 21, 2021

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently announced that more than 100 million jobs could return to the global Travel & Tourism sector during 2021, as the world recovers from the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. It stated that 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 that 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. However, 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. 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.


The new research also revealed Travel & Tourism’s contribution to global GDP will fall 17% compared to 2019 figures, to US$7.4 trillion. WTTC believes this is achievable with testing on departure, mandatory mask wearing and the worldwide implementation of vaccination programmes. And in the more conservative outcome, with a slower recovery, the sector’s contribution will drop by more than one quarter (27%), to US$ 6.5 trillion. WTTC believes that the latest predictions outline the significant challenges faced by the global sector as it prepares for its recovery in the months ahead once the impact of worldwide rollout of vaccination programmes is felt and travel restrictions are eased.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC said in a statement that the tourism industry can look forward to a strong summer as a result of a combination of mask wearing, the global vaccination rollout and testing on departure unlocking the door to international travel once more. She mentioned that WTTC’s latest research supports the notion and shows there is definitely hope on the horizon for the global Travel & Tourism sector in the year ahead, with the possible recovery of up to 111 million jobs. She shared that the 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. She also mentioned that 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.


She added that the tourism body now believes that the sector’s return will become a reality, but people must guard against complacency as the recovery is not a foregone conclusion and there is still a long way to go and tourism will encounter many more bumps in the road ahead. She stated that vaccinations in major source markets, such as the U.K. and the U.S., will help navigate the way out of the pandemic into a world where travel can once again thrive. She also warned people cannot rely solely upon one solution and the rollout of vaccines to restart international travel; and mentioned that testing on departure will still be critical to restore travel while respecting the safe protocols and recovering as many jobs as possible across travel & tourism, and throughout the wider economy.


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