The World Travel & Tourism Council says up to 50 million jobs globally in the travel and tourism sector are at risk due to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said in a statement, “When the time is right, WTTC and the global private sector will be ready to help and support the government and countries to recover.”
Figures from the WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, show that global travel could be adversely impacted by up to 25 percent in 2020. This is the equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel. This could lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12 and 14 percent.
“The COVID-19 outbreak clearly presents a significant threat to the industry as a whole, to those employed within it and those wishing to continue travelling,” Guevara said. “Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger and more robust by taking all necessary measures to tackle COVID-19 and the understandable concern which surrounds it."
Following extensive consultation with other travel and tourism organizations, WTTC is also calling for a series of measures to be taken to enable the swift recovery of the sector once COVID-19 is under control. These include:
- Improve travel facilitation – Remove or simplify visas wherever possible, reduce the cost and improve processing times where practical, accept other visas when appropriate and introduce more efficient technologies for seamless and secure travel
- Remove barriers – Ensure that unnecessary barriers are removed or relaxed to alleviate pressure at ports and airports, including temporarily lifting of the 80-20 slot policy rule, ports assignments and implement flexible working visa for the industry in some countries with existing limitations, especially in hospitality and tour operation
- Ease fiscal policies – Reduce and remove travelers’ taxes, which increases the cost of travel (e.g. Air Passenger Duty and similar airport, port and hospitality taxes around the world)
- Introduce incentives – Introduce relief and incentives to support business continuity for companies which have been most negatively impacted by the virus; SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), in particular, will take longer to recover
- Support destinations – Increase budgets and assign resources for promotion, marketing and product development purposes in destinations when they are ready to welcome visitors again.
The WTTC notes the importance of strong public-private partnerships and greater international cooperation in order to respond and overcome the challenges faced by the sector during the management and recovery from COVID-19.