The WTTC, which represents the private tourism industry and counts more than 200 company members, said the epidemic could affect up to 50 million jobs worldwide. Both large corporations and small businesses are vulnerable. The organization said the crisis could eventually lead to a 12 to 14 percent loss of positions. WTTC arrived at this assessment by looking at the drop in international and domestic arrivals this year, plus figures related to spending and jobs.
“It has a domino effect,” said Gloria Guevara, the council’s president and chief executive. “If a cruise ship doesn’t travel and there are no passengers, then no food is being purchased for the trip and tours are not being sold.”
Guevara said the sector has already suffered job reductions, citing the tourism industries in Italy and Asia as examples. However, she remains hopeful of a comeback, a realistic aspiration as long as governments and private businesses combine forces.
“We need a more organized approach,” she said. “We are all in this together,”
Though the world is still in crisis mode, the organization already has several initiatives percolating. The proposals fall under five categories: “improve travel facilitation,” “remove barriers,” “ease fiscal policies,” “introduce incentives” and “support destinations.” For instance, WTTC said countries could simplify or expedite the visa application process, reduce fees or toss out the visa requirement. Governments could lower or eliminate taxes aimed at tourists, such as airport, port and hospitality fees. And destinations could increase their marketing budgets and put more muscle into tourism campaigns. Ultimately, the group wants to remove obstacles and make traveling easier and more appealing than ever — millions of jobs depend on it.
“The travel industry will rebound,” she said. “We are very resilient. We just don’t know how long it will take.”