New data suggests the travel and tourism industry in the United States suffered a loss of $766 billion in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual Economic Impact Report (EIR), travel and tourism supported more than 16.5 million jobs in 2019, a number that declined 33.2% to 11.1 million last year. The sector saw a decrease of a staggering 62 million jobs in 2020 around the world.
The WTTC’s study also found the travel and tourism sector’s impact on the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) last year dropped by 41% from the nearly $1.9 trillion totaled in 2019.
“Travel & Tourism plays a pivotal role in supplying both jobs and financial gains to the overall U.S. economy,” WTTC President Gloria Guevara said. “The industry’s decline due to the pandemic has been felt across the board for families, business owners, and tour operators who rely on a thriving sector for their livelihood.”
“A restart of international travel will create more employment opportunities and empower a resurgence of the country’s economy,” Guevara continued. “Our research shows that if mobility and international travel resumes by summer this year, the sector’s contribution to global Travel & Tourism GDP could rise sharply in 2021.”
The domestic travel spending market took a 37.1% hit last year due to travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, but it was international visitor spend that took the biggest hit, dropping by 76.7%.
International visitor spending fell from $181.2 billion in 2019 to just $42.2 billion in 2020.
Moving forward, the WTTC believes the $14 billion allocated to airlines by the government and the rapid pace of vaccine rollouts “presents opportunities for companies within the sector to regain losses and reinstate job positions across the industry.”