COVID-19 could cut 30 million tourism jobs in Asia

Asia is expected to be the worst affected, with 30 million jobs at risk of being lost.
By: | March 19, 2020
Topics: Asia-Pacific | Job Cuts | News

As governments around the world continue to impose stringent travel restrictions in a bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the economic fallout has continued to adversely affect many business operations.

One of the hardest hit is the travel and tourism sector, which could cut as many as 50 million jobs globally.  According to latest statistics from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, global travel could be reduced by up to 25% in 2020. Equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel, this is likely to lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12-14%.

Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, said, “The COVID-19 outbreak clearly represents a significant threat to the industry as a whole, to those employed within it, and those wishing to continue travelling.”

With Asian nations increasingly the choice of travel destination for many global travelers, it is perhaps not surprising that Asia is expected to bear the brunt of the downturn. Of the 50 million jobs on the line, around 30 million would be in Asia, seven million in Europe, five million in Americas and the rest in other continents, WTTC projected.

A looming global recession is likely to further dampen outlook, as the tourism industry currently accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and jobs. S&P Global Ratings forecast a global recession this year, with 2020 GDP expected to rise just 1.0% – 1.5.%.

Estimating that it would take the tourism industry about 10 months to return to “normal levels” once the pandemic is brought under control, the WTTC’s Guevara also called on governments to then remove or simplify visas wherever possible, cut travel taxes and introduce incentives. She added that in the interim, the sector needs to display flexibility, so that travelers can postpone and not cancel their plans.

“Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger and more robust by taking all necessary measures to tackle COVID-19 and the understandable concern which surrounds it.”