According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual economic impact report, the travel and tourism industry suffered a huge loss of nearly $4.5 trillion worldwide last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sector’s contribution to GDP falls 49.1% from nearly $9.2 trillion in 2019 to $4.7 trillion in 2020. Further, the report shows that by 2020, spending on international travel has decreased by 69.4%, while spending on domestic travel has decreased by 45%.

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We should applaud the prompt action of governments around the world to save so many threatened jobs and livelihoods through various stimulus programs, without which the current numbers would be much worse. However, the WTTC’s annual economic impact report shows the pain our industry has suffered over the past 12 months, needlessly affecting so many lives and businesses, large and small, said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, in a statement. Clearly, no one wants to go through what so many people have gone through in the past 12 difficult months. WTTC research shows that the global travel and tourism industry alone is facing an unprecedented loss of nearly $4.5 trillion.

With the sector’s contribution to GDP down by almost half, it is more important than ever that the travel and tourism industry receives the support it needs to contribute to the economic recovery that will help the world overcome the effects of the pandemic, she added.

However, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, as the WTTC predicts that the 62 million travel and tourism jobs lost in 2020 could be regained by 2022 if global adoption of the vaccine continues and restrictions are eased before this year’s peak summer season. Studies show that the contribution of tourism and travel to global GDP could increase by 48.5% year-on-year in 2021.

The WTTC continues to call on governments around the world to follow its four recovery principles, including the introduction of a comprehensive and coordinated international screening system to eliminate quarantines for unvaccinated travelers, the introduction of improved hygiene protocols and mandatory masking, the adoption of an individual risk assessment for travelers rather than a country-by-country risk assessment, and continued support for the industry through taxes, cash, and worker protections.

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