WTTC: U.S. Tourism Lost $766 Billion to Covid-19 in 2020

Caribbean News…
20 April 2021 9:38pm
New York's Time Square

The annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed the U.S. travel and tourism sector suffered a significant loss of $766 billion in 2020. 

In 2019, the U.S. Travel & Tourism sector accrued a GDP of nearly $1.9 trillion. However, WTTC’s research found that in 2020, a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the industry, the country saw a 41% decrease to the sector’s GDP contribution. With the U.S. being the largest Travel & Tourism economy in the world, the country’s recovery plays an important role in the rebound of the sector on a global level.  

According to the report, Travel & Tourism supported more than 16.5 million jobs (10.5% of total U.S. employment) in 2019. In 2020, Travel & Tourism jobs within the U.S. declined 33.2% to 11.1 million (7.5% of total U.S. employment). Globally, the sector saw a decrease of a staggering 62 million (18.5%) jobs in 2020 alone. 

International and domestic travel play a key role in the U.S. economy regaining strength. The loss in traveler spend and unemployment, has been felt across the entire country, with Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which make up 80% of all Travel & Tourism businesses, significantly impacted. Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.

The revival of Travel & Tourism businesses in the U.S. private sector will boost gains across the industry as a key component to the overall financial contributions that move public initiatives and campaigns forward.

The country’s domestic travel spend saw less of a drastic change with a decrease of 37.1%, while international visitor spend dropped by 76.7% in 2020 – decreasing from $181.2 billion in 2019, to just $42.2 billion in 2020. 

The U.S. market and global Travel & Tourism sector is steadily trending in the right direction for recovery due to the efforts of the Biden administration. The $14 billion allocated to airlines, as stipulated in the earlier announced American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, coupled with the rapid pace of vaccine rollouts, presents opportunities for companies within the sector to regain losses and reinstate job positions across the industry.

WTTC believes that if international travel is resumed by June this year, it will provide the boost necessary to bring back job opportunities in the U.S. and jumpstart gains in the economy. 

The global tourism body also believes that public and private collaboration is key to reviving the sector, and following the recent meeting with business leaders, WTTC is confident that the Biden administration will continue to work closely with the private sector in its efforts to restore international travel.

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