The latest research compiled by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), reveals that more than 2 million jobs could be created if international travel reopens before the busy summer period. With that said, if current restrictions continue and international travel is not allowed to resume at a greater capacity over the next few months, WTTC warns that the potential U.S. job recovery will be cut in half, to only 1 million generated.
WTTC’s latest economic modeling found that $105 billion in the U.S.’s travel and tourism sector contribution to the national economy is at stake should travel not resume. In addition, it fears that if immediate steps are not taken for the U.S. to re-establish international travel now, the impact on the economy and the livelihoods of millions of those who work in the sector could be devastating.
Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice president, noted in a press statement that the U.S. could follow in the European Union’s footsteps by launching a Digital COVID Certificate. “This new measure holds the potential to unlock international travel, and should the U.S. not follow suit by loosening travel restrictions this summer, the continued closures could have a lasting negative impact on jobs within travel and tourism, the sector’s contribution to the GDP, and delay the country’s economic recovery,” she said.
The WTTC adds that now is a good time to reopen to travel for the U.S. According to The New York Times, 41 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated with 51 percent having received at least one dose. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. are as low as they have been since nearly the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, WTTC reports that consumer confidence in booking and planning getaways has strengthened.
According to WTTC’s recent Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism jobs within the U.S. declined by a third in 2020 (33.2 percent), equating to 5.51 million jobs. While these job losses were felt across the entire travel and tourism ecosystem, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities over the past year has been significant.
Despite the economic downturn of the past year, the U.S. has maintained its lead as the largest travel and tourism contributor in the global sector. WTTC warns the continuing lack of international travel could threaten the United States’ position as the world’s premier hub for business and leisure travel, as Europe and additional regions around the world begin to reopen.