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, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
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 and tourism jobs were at risk. However, in its latest analysis, WTTC’s most optimistic scenario predicts that as many as 111 million jobs could be revived – but this would still be 17% below 2019 figures, accounting for 54 million fewer jobs.
The WTTC’s 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.
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.
In 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 for 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 roll-out 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 and tourism sector in the year ahead, with the possible recovery of up to 111 million jobs.”
The WTTC first predicted the return of the sector through its 100 Million Jobs Recovery Plan, presented at last October’s G20 Tourism Ministers meeting. “Now we believe the sector’s return will become a reality,” said Guevara.
‘Guard against complacency’
She cautioned against complacency, however, as the recovery was not a foregone conclusion. Guevara said there was still a long way to go with “many more bumps in the road ahead”.
“Vaccinations in major source markets, such as the UK and the US, will help us navigate our way out of the pandemic into a world where travel can once again thrive.
“We cannot rely solely upon one solution and the roll-out of vaccines to restart international travel. Testing on departure will still be critical to restore travel while respecting the safe protocols and recovering as many jobs as possible across travel and tourism, and throughout the wider economy,” Guevara said.