The World Travel and Tourism (WTTC) has revealed that 111 million global travel and tourism jobs could be recovered this year, as the industry recovers from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global body’s latest economic forecast predicts that a “strong summer of travel” will lead the recovery, with major travel companies already reporting a significant rise in bookings. 

The WTTC warned that 174 million jobs in the sector were at risk during the height of the pandemic last year, however its latest analysis provides hope for businesses and employees in the travel industry. 

The best-case scenario, which is dependant on travel recovery from late March, predicts that 111 million jobs could return thanks to factors such as widespread vaccination programmes, mandatory mask wearing and the adoption of comprehensive testing regimes.

Nevertheless, this figure is still 17 per cent lower than in 2019 and accounts for 54 million fewer jobs. In this case, travel and tourism’s contribution to global GDP will fall to US$7.4 trillion, a 17 per cent reduction compared to 2019 figures.

On the other end of the scale, the body’s more conservative outcome would see a return of 84 million jobs – 25 per cent below 2019 levels, with 82 million fewer jobs. This scenario is based on a recovery of international travel in the second half of 2021 owing to the gradual roll-out of vaccines which would slow down the lifting of worldwide travel restrictions. The sector’s contribution to global GDP would drop by more than one quarter to US$6.5 trillion in this case.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO, commented on the findings: 

“This projected outcome will come as huge relief and be welcomed as the beginning of the long-awaited recovery, for a sector which has for so long suffered the brunt of hugely damaging travel restrictions.

“But we must guard against complacency as the recovery is not a forgone conclusion. There is still a long way to go and we will encounter many more bumps in the road ahead. Vaccinations in major source markets, such as the UK and the US, will help us navigate our way out of the pandemic into a world where travel can once again thrive.

“We cannot rely solely upon one solution and the rollout of vaccines to restart international travel; testing on departure will still be critical to restore travel while respecting the safe protocols and recovering as many jobs as possible across Travel and Tourism, and throughout the wider economy.”