Tourism’s ‘sluggish’ recovery hits jobs and growth worldwide

The World Travel and Tourism Council said the “continued sluggish recovery” of travel and tourism means that its contribution to global GDP will rise by less than one third in 2021, compared to 2020.

The recovery of the sector has been hampered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world, explained the tourism body. It also said that it is ‘vital’ for the UK government to remove its red list policy to help accelerate the recovery.

In 2019, the travel and tourism sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion for the global economy. However this fell by 49% in 2020 because of the pandemic, representing a “punishing” loss of nearly $4.5 trillion.

“While the global economy is set to receive a modest 30.7% year-on-year increase from travel and tourism in 2021, this will only represent $1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending,” said the WTTC in a statement on Wednesday.

The figures come from research by Oxford Economics on behalf of WTTC, which also shows that travel and tourism’s contribution to the global economy could see a similar moderate year-on-year rise of 31.7% in 2022.

WTTC said 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost around the world last year and employment is set to rise by only 0.7% this year.

However, next year could see the number of jobs rise across the sector rise by 18%.

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Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “Our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of Covid-19 there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower-than-expected recovery of just under a third this year.

“While next year is looking more positive in terms of the global economy and jobs, the current rate of recovery is simply not fast enough and is in the most part driven by domestic travel, which will not achieve a full economic recovery.

“If governments can start looking internationally and support travel and tourism with simplified rules to enable the safe return of travel, there is the opportunity to save jobs and boost economic wealth.”

Commenting on the UK red list, which is expected to be trimmed this week, she said: “The prime minister has an opportunity to help revive the sector faster by removing the UK red list policy and enabling stress-free international travel for all of those fully-vaccinated.”

The body said travel and tourism can recover faster around the world if fully vaccinated travellers can move freely; digital solutions enable travellers to easily prove their Covid status; and there is agreement from all relevant authorities that international travel is safe with enhanced health and safety protocols.

Picture by kandl stock/Shutterstock

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