The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says that “a staggering one million jobs are being lost every day in the Travel and Tourism sector due to the sweeping effect of the coronavirus pandemic”.

Airlines worldwide are grounding their fleets and hotels either closing or operating a restricted service, and the WTTC says that “the growing job losses are affecting every level of the industry and are gathering pace, as countries go into lockdown to tackle the virus”.

The organisation said that the closure of hotels, suspension of flights, cessation of cruise trips and growing global travel bans are having “a catastrophic ‘domino effect’ hitting huge numbers of suppliers worldwide”.

The WTTC says that small and medium sized businesses, including tour operators and travel agents, are “especially vulnerable”, and said that it is in talks with over 75 governments worldwide, calling for countries to “urgently do more to intervene to make clearer how businesses can access potentially life-saving loans, and tax breaks, to prevent them from imminent collapse”.

The organisation said that analysis of its members showed that up to 50 million jobs are “at immediate risk”, with up to 320 million jobs “facing the impact of the dramatic loss of business”.

WTTC research suggests that travel and tourism contributes 10.4 per cent of global GDP, and is directly responsible for generating one in ten of the world’s jobs.

The organisation has announced a three-point plan for governments: protect salaries, incomes and jobs; extend unlimited interest-free loans to provide liquidity; and waive or remove all dues, taxes and fiscal charges which affect cash flow for 12 months.

Commenting on the news Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO, said:

“While the priority for governments is to keep people safe, this global health catastrophe means a million people a day in the Travel and Tourism industry alone are losing their jobs and facing potential ruin due to the disastrous impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is heartbreaking that the livelihoods of millions of people who have dedicated their lives to the Travel & Tourism sector are being decimated; from waiters to taxi drivers, guides to chefs and caterers, pilots to cleaners.

“The relentless cascade of job losses is plunging millions of families into terrible hardship and debt, fearful of how to buy food and pay their bills. The domino effect of Covid-19 is right now having a massive impact, wiping out an entire economic sector.

“Businesses large and small are being forced to rip up their three-year plans and focus on a three-month fight for survival on a daily basis, while people’s jobs are wiped out hour by hour. We fear this situation will only deteriorate unless more action is taken immediately by governments to address it.

“While some governments have been quick to respond with promises of help, the majority of businesses still have no idea how to access these potentially life-saving loans and tax breaks.

“Today we call on governments around the world to make crystal clear how businesses can access funds, which can prevent the hemorrhage of jobs throughout the Travel and Tourism sector.”