The coronavirus pandemic will cost nearly three million travel and tourism jobs in the UK because of the collapse of the industry, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Bosses described the job losses as ‘heartbreaking’ and warned that positions were ‘disappearing by the day’.
They expressed their frustration and said that research conducted two months ago predicted that this ‘worst case scenario’ would occur if barriers to global travel – such as quarantine measures and blanket travel restrictions – remained in place.
While some travel bans have been removed, many others remain. New restrictions are also likely to come into force to tackle the continuing threat posed by Covid-19 and possible second spikes.
However, a patchwork of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated international testing and tracing measures have deterred many from travelling at all.
Bosses warn that the peak summer 2020 travel season has all but been wiped out, and that 197million jobs in the sector will be lost worldwide.
Last week travel to Spain was thrown into chaos when the UK government changed its travel advice to re-impose a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving back in the UK.
This countrywide ‘travel ban’ came despite parts of Spain, such as Andalucia, the Balearics and Canaries having a lower Covid-19 infection rate than the UK.
WTTC estimates the UK could lose a staggering $186 billion from the Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to UK GDP.
That equates to a 73% percent drop compared with 2019.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: ‘It’s heart-breaking to see our worst fears for the UK and global Travel & Tourism sector coming true.
‘The jobs and livelihoods of millions of people who work throughout the sector are disappearing by the day, despite our warning this could happen.’
She added that the ‘economic black hole of US$186 billion in the country’s finances’ was due to an ‘international failure to implement proper coordination to combat the pandemic’.
Guevara said, however, there was ‘time to turn this around’, but only ‘if we act together now as one and replace ineffective quarantines with comprehensive rapid testing, a worldwide accepted standard of contact tracing and widespread face mask usage.’
She said using the latest technology and mass adoption of face coverings will restore confidence to travellers.
‘Governments around the world must align their policies and work hand in hand with the private sector to revive Travel & Tourism, so we can restore jobs and help revive the global economy.
‘We strongly believe that by working as one we can beat Covid-19 and return to safe travels with world class standards of hygiene to travellers and regenerate the jobs and livelihoods of the 300 million people who worked in the sector before Covid-19.
‘That is a much more, cost effective and efficient option which will alleviate the terrible economic impact of mass unemployment.’
WTTC had urged governments to follow a four-point plan to avoid the ‘worst case scenario’ it feared could take place.
The plan recommended the immediate removal and replacement of travel bans and 14-day quarantine measures, with ‘air corridors’ to stimulate the sector and the wider economy.
It also urged the adoption of global health and safety protocols to provide assurance to travellers and those working within the sector.
WTTC believes the implementation of a rapid test and trace strategy is a critical step to help contain the spread of the virus.
This would still allow people to travel responsibly and encourage greater and sustained collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a standardised, global approach to the crisis, they said.
According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.