News article | World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)

High testing costs and continued travel restrictions hamper accessibility of travel and create an elitist system
With only 34% of the world’s population fully immunized, immunization inequalities threaten economic recovery

London, UK: The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism today released an important new report that highlights weaknesses in restoring international mobility, and recommendations to boost the recovery of the economy. travel and tourism sector, while improving its resilience.

With the pandemic bringing international travel to a near complete halt, due to border closures and severe travel restrictions, travel and tourism have suffered more than any other sector over the past 18 months.

The sector’s contribution to global GDP fell from nearly US $ 9.2 trillion in 2019 to just US $ 4.7 trillion in 2020, representing a loss of almost US $ 4.5 trillion. In addition, as the pandemic raged through the heart of the sector, 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost.

This new report highlights the latest economic projections from the WTTC which reveal that the sector’s recovery is expected to be slower than expected this year, largely linked to continued border closures and challenges with international mobility.

The sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow by a modest 30.7% year-on-year in 2021, representing only an increase of US $ 1.4 trillion, and at the current pace of recovery, the contribution of travel and tourism to GDP could experience a similar year. increase of 31.7% over one year in 2022.

Meanwhile, jobs in the sector are expected to grow just 0.7% this year, accounting for just two million jobs, followed by an 18% increase next year.
Representing the worst crisis for the travel and tourism industry, COVID-19 has not only impacted the global economy, but also the well-being and livelihoods of people around the world.

Before the pandemic began to severely affect the sector, travel and tourism was one of the largest sectors in the world, responsible for one in four new jobs created globally between 2015-2019 and was a key catalyst for socio-economic development and poverty reduction, providing opportunities for women, minorities, rural communities and young people.

This new report from the WTTC, in partnership with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Tourism, reveals sensitive points that focus on the urgent challenge of restoring international mobility, framed by the need to address the weaknesses of the sector demonstrated during the pandemic in rethinking a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.

This important new report shows how international border closures, uncertainty due to changing rules, prohibitive cost of testing, lack of reciprocity, and uneven roll-out of vaccination have hampered the recovery of the travel and healthcare industry. tourism in the last 18 months.

As of June 2020, all countries still had some form of travel restrictions, playing a significant role in dropping international spending by 69.4% that year. These ever-changing and confusing restrictions continued to significantly affect the confidence of travelers to book, as there was no clear path, or global consensus, in terms of testing, quarantine requirements. and immunization standards.

According to the report, the latest Global Traveler Sentiment Survey released by Oliver Wyman shows that only 66% plan to travel abroad in the next six months, and less than one in 10 (9%) have booked a future trip, which shows the persistent uncertainty of the traveler’s decision-making. Expensive PCR tests continue to negatively impact travelers, reversing any progress in making travel accessible and creating new inequalities.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said: “The travel and tourism sector is critical to many livelihoods that continue to be affected by the failure to harmonize and standardize COVID-19 regulations in the world. There is no excuse for a patchwork of regulations, countries must join forces and harmonize the rules. Many developing countries depend on international travel for their economies and have been devastated.

“As it stands, only 34% of the world’s population has been fully immunized, showing that there are still large inequalities in the deployment of vaccines around the world. A rapid and fair vaccination plan, alongside global recognition of all WHO-approved vaccines, is needed to safely reopen international travel and quickly resume economic activity.

“The WTTC recognizes the importance of restoring consumer confidence and we have developed, in collaboration with the public and private sectors, a set of harmonized protocols for safe travel for 11 industries in the travel and tourism sector. Our globally recognized Safe Travels seal has been adopted by more than 400 destinations around the world.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia said: “This report shows the impact of COVID-19 on the global travel and tourism industry – and the unevenness of the ongoing recovery. We need to be clear: unless tourism picks up, economies will not pick up.

“We must unite to support this critical industry, which before the pandemic was responsible for 10% of global GDP. With this report, Saudi Arabia calls on the industry to come together to rethink tourism for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.

The report makes recommendations for achieving a rapid recovery in the travel and tourism sector, as COVID becomes rampant.

A focus based on international coordination to reopen borders, a level playing field and digitization to facilitate travel, as well as sustainability and social impact at the heart of the sector, will restore international mobility and the travel and tourism sector. tourism. These measures will save millions of jobs and allow communities, businesses and destinations that depend on the travel and tourism sector to fully recover and thrive again.

Read the report here>

Download the press release>

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