Coronavirus (COVID-19) could cause 50 million jobs to be lost worldwide, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
The pandemic currently sweeping the globe has led many countries to introduce travel restrictions and deterred millions of people from traveling. The travel industry has been hit hard by this and will continue to suffer until the crisis is over.
It is predicted that even once global travel returns to normal, it could take up to 10 months for the world travel industry to recover.
The scale of the impact on the travel industry will be determined by how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts. The industry accounts for roughly 10% of the world’s GDP.
The WTTC’s managing director Virginia Messina projected that as many as 50 million jobs could be lost as a result of the virus and related travel restrictions. Asia is likely to be the hardest-hit region, with up to 30 million job losses, with 7 million in Europe, and 5 million in the Americas.
Travel Restrictions Due to COVID-19
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. It quickly became an epidemic, spreading first throughout the Hubei province, then to other parts of China, and soon to other countries.
While China was initially the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, other Asian countries, such as South Korea, began to experience a rising number of cases.
In March 2020, Italy and Iran recorded a rapidly rising number of cases of coronavirus, quickly becoming 2 of the hardest-hit countries besides China. Italy’s outbreak was the start of the epidemic in Europe, with the number of cases Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK skyrocketing soon after.
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
As of March 27, the US has the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus. While many parts of the country have been affected, the majority of cases have been concentrated in the State of New York. Italy currently has the highest number of deaths due to coronavirus, with over 8,000.
A number of countries, such as Italy and Spain have declared a state of emergency and ordered the population to go into lockdown, only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons.
Many governments have responded by restricting travel. Some have closed their borders completely to foreign nationals, while others have banned travelers from certain affected countries.
Many air travel services have been grounded, with some countries suspending all commercial flights. Cruise ships have been banned from docking at many ports.
The result is that global travel has ground almost to a halt. Airlines and cruise companies are predicted to be the hardest hit by these travel restrictions, while hotels may fare a little better.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak On Tourism
The travel industry is a large contributor to the world’s economy. It is estimated to make up around 10% of global GDP.
According to Messina, the US received approximately 850,000 visitors from Europe alone, which contributes around $3.4 billion to the American economy.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that travel is likely to slump by 25% this year.
The WTTC said that if 3 months of global travel are lost in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the sector would experience a huge reduction in jobs. They predicted that between 12% and 14% of jobs in travel and tourism would be cut due to the loss of money being spent on travel.
The organization has called on countries around the world to take steps to curb the potential loss of revenue where possible by cutting travel taxes, simplifying visas, and introducing incentives for travelers once the crisis has abated to encourage people to take trips again.
Messina suggested that travel companies and airlines should allow flexibility for travelers to postpone and not cancel their plans, ensuring that tourism will continue after the pandemic is over.