The US Looks to Lose $155 Billion Without International Tourism in 2020

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest research indicates that, with this year’s COVID-induced collapse of international tourism, the U.S. economy is set to lose $155 billion in 2020. This catastrophic upset to the American economy is tantamount to a shortfall of $425 million a day, or almost $3 billion per week.

International travel spending in the U.S. during 2019 reached $195.1 billion, accounting for 16 percent of the country’s total tourism-sector spending. That’s nearly $16.3 billion each month, which equates to $3.7 billion every week or $534.5 million per day.

The virtual evaporation of global travel activity for the better part of 2020 could result in international visitor spending declining by an astounding 79 percent, according to WTTC’s analysis. WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report also makes clear COVID-19’s far-reaching impact on the Travel and Tourism industry and global economics.

The report reveals that, in 2019, the Travel and Tourism sector provided 16.8 million American jobs (10.7 percent of the nation’s total workforce) and generated $1.8 trillion, which is equivalent to nine percent of the U.S. economy. WTTC’s modeling mapped out a ‘worst case’ scenario in which almost 12.1 million U.S. jobs may be lost due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“The economic pain and suffering caused to millions of households across the U.S., who are dependent upon Travel and Tourism for their livelihoods, is evident from our latest shocking figures,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC’s President and CEO.

“The lack of international visitors to the U.S. due to the pandemic could wipe out more than $155 billion from the U.S. economy alone—a loss of $425 million a day—from which it may take years to recover. It could also threaten New York’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel,” she explained.

Representing Travel and Tourism’s private-sector players, the WTTC and its Members recently petitioned President Donald Trump and the other leaders of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom), asking that they work together to formulate a coordinated recovery response for the sector.

“International coordination to re-establish transatlantic travel would provide a boost for the Travel and Tourism sector. It would benefit airlines and hotels, travel agents and tour operators, and revitalize the millions of jobs in the supply chain which are dependent upon international travel across the Atlantic,” Guevara said.

She continued: “We urgently need to replace blanket quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective test and trace programs at departure points across the country. This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines which have devastating and far-reaching socio-economic consequences.

“The recent $750 million deal with Abbott labs for $5 rapid test is very promising in this respect, and we hope that it allows the U.S. to continue to reopen and can prove as a blueprint for a way forward for other countries. Targeted test and tracing will help rebuild consumer confidence to travel.”

According to WTTC research, in 2019, the Travel and Tourism industry supplied one in ten jobs (330 million in total), generated one in four of the world’s new jobs and contributed 10.3 percent to the global GDP.

For more information, visit wttc.org.

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