Estimated Job Losses Across the Travel and Tourism Industry Jump 30 Percent

As many as 100 million travel jobs could be lost due to COVID-19, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.


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Updated on April 27, 2020 9:45 a.m. EDT. 

The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in cancelled flights, closed hotels and shuttered attractions. In total, the World Travel & Tourism Council estimates COVID-19 could put as many as 100 million jobs in the travel and tourism industry at risk.

The latest figures from the WTTC represent a 30 percent increase in job losses in just four weeks; the organization had previously estimated that 75 million jobs would be affected. The new report also suggests the travel and tourism GDP loss to the world economy could be as much as $2.7 trillion in 2020.

According to the WTTC, Asia is expected to be the most heavily impacted region with up to 63 million jobs at risk. Meanwhile, job losses of nearly 14 million are expected across the Americas, including 8 million in North America, 4.7 million in Latin America and 1 million in the Caribbean. 

Europe will follow with projected job losses of 13 million. Africa may see as many 7.6 million jobs lost. In the Middle East, job losses are expected to reach 2.6 million.

"This is a staggering and deeply worrying change in such a short time. In just the last month alone, our research shows an increase of 25 million in the number of job losses in travel and tourism. The whole cycle of tourism is being wiped out by the pandemic," said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, in a statement. "Travel and tourism are the backbone of the global economy. Without it, global economies will struggle to recover in any meaningful way and hundreds of millions of people will suffer enormous financial and mental damage for years to come." 

WTTC issued a series of recommendations to help the travel and tourism sector recover once the coronavirus outbreak has been contained. This includes:

  1. Removing or simplifying the visa process wherever possible to improve travel facilitation
  2. Relaxing or removing unnecessary barriers at ports and airports 
  3. Reducing or eliminating traveler taxes, such as Air Passenger Duty
  4. Establishing relief programs and incentives for companies that have been negatively affected by coronavirus 
  5. Increasing budgets and resources for destination marketing and promotion

"At this time, WTTC reinforces the importance of strong public-private partnerships and greater international cooperation in order to respond to and overcome the challenges faced by the sector during the management and recovery from COVID-19," noted the organization. "The travel and tourism sector has a proven track record of resilience in the face of crises and this ability to bounce back has improved significantly in recent years."