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2021 Travel Job Recovery: Hopeful But Significant Uncertainty

The Hope for a 2021 Jobs Recovery in travel
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) believes that over 100M jobs could be revived in travel and tourism in 2021 as the world begins its hopeful recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic related declines. The WTTC’s latest economic forecast predicts a strong summer of travel is expected from late March onwards (thanks to major travel companies reporting a significant rise in forward bookings) providing much needed hope to businesses and those employed in the industry.

The Scenarios - Headline Numbers
At one point last year, the WTTC warned 174M industry jobs were at risk but now its most optimistic scenario indicates that as many as 111M jobs could be recovered - this outcome would still be 17% below 2019 figures, accounting for 54 million fewer jobs. In this scenario, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to global GDP would only fall 17% (vs. 2019) to $7.4T. A more conservative scenario would recover 84M jobs - 25% below 2019 levels, accounting for 82 million fewer jobs. In this scenario, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to global GDP would drop by 27% (vs. 2019) to $6.5T.

The Scenarios - Key Inputs and Outcomes
In the best-case scenario, the recovery in travel would begin in late March (leading into a strrong summer) and would assume widespread vaccination programs were rolled out, quick adoption of comprehensive test-and-trace regimes and strong international coordination from the private and public sectors (e.g. mandatory mask wearing, testing on departure, jumpstarting international travel etc.).  

In the more conservative scenario, the international travel recovery would not occur until 2H'2021. The vaccine rollout and resulting removal of worldwide travel barriers would be more gradual - the remaining restrictions would stay in place, depressing travel demand and consumer confidence.

Interview with WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara - Recommendations
- Adopt Global Data Standards
- Cross Sector Collaboration Between Travel Operators / Hotels 
- Implement Standardized Health and Safety Protocols Globally 
- Adopt Digital Technologies to Enable Seamless Global Travel

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