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WTTC Research Finds Slower-Than-Expected Travel and Tourism Recovery


A lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world are hampering the travel and tourism sector’s recovery says the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

According to the organization, the sector’s continued sluggish recovery will see its year-on-year contribution to global GDP rise by less than one-third this year.

Travel and tourism generated more than $9 trillion to the global economy in 2019. The pandemic brought travel to its knees in 2020, resulting in a 49 percent drop and a loss of $ 4.5 trillion.

In 2021, travel and tourism is slowly making a comeback but is nowhere near previous years. The WTTC believes that the global economy will receive a modest 30.7 percent year-on-year increase from Travel & Tourism in 2021, this will only represent USD 1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending.

Next year is expected to be similar. The travel and tourism sector is expected to see a similar moderate year-on-year rise of 31.7 percent in 2022.

“Our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of COVID-19 there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower than expected recovery of just under a third this year,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO. “Last year, 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost globally, and our data shows a rise of a meager 0.7 percent this year. While next year is looking more positive in terms of the global economy and jobs, the current rate of recovery is simply not fast enough and is in the most part driven by domestic travel, which will not achieve a full economic recovery.”

Simpson said government collaboration could help make a swifter industry recovery.

“If governments can start looking internationally and support Travel & Tourism with simplified rules to enable the safe return of travel, there is the opportunity to save jobs and boost economic wealth,” she said.

WTTC research identified several actions that could lead to a brighter future:

—Allow fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination, removing complex tiered systems.

—The implementation of digital solutions that enable all travelers to easily prove their COVID status, so in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world.

—Recognition of all vaccines authorized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and/or any of the Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRA).

—Agreement from all relevant authorities that international travel is safe with enhanced health and safety protocols.

The impact of these four rules could be significant said the WTTC and could mean that the sector’s contribution to the global economy would jump by 37.5 percent, reaching $6.4 trillion this year (compared to USD 4.7 trillion in 2020).

For the latest insights on travel around the world, check out the interactive guide below:


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