As many as one million travel and tourism jobs are being lost every day due to the sweeping effect of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest estimates.
The growing job losses are affecting every level of the industry and are gathering pace, as countries go into lockdown to tackle the virus.
Up to 50 million jobs throughout the world are at immediate risk, with 320 million jobs facing the impact of the dramatic loss of business.
The warning came today from the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council.
The vast closure of hotels, suspension of the majority of international and domestic airline flights, suspension of cruises and growing global travel bans are having a catastrophic ‘domino effect’ hitting huge numbers of suppliers worldwide.
Small and medium-sized businesses at every level, such as tour operators, travel agents and sole-traders, are especially vulnerable.
The organisation, which is already in talks with more than 75 governments around the world, has called for countries to urgently do more to intervene to make clearer how businesses can access potentially life-saving loans, and tax breaks, to prevent them from imminent collapse.
WTTC said it is mindful that while the travel and tourism sector is facing an economic meltdown the coronavirus pandemic is primarily a global health disaster, which governments are doing all they can to contain the spread and reduce the number of deaths.
President and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “While the priority for governments is to keep people safe, this global health catastrophe means a million people a day in the travel and tourism industry alone are losing their jobs and facing potential ruin due to the disastrous impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is heartbreaking that the livelihoods of millions of people who have dedicated their lives to the travel and tourism sector are being decimated; from waiters to taxi drivers, guides to chefs and caterers, pilots to cleaners.
“The relentless cascade of job losses is plunging millions of families into terrible hardship and debt, fearful of how to buy food and pay their bills. The domino effect of Covid-19 is right now having a massive impact, wiping out an entire economic sector.
“Businesses large and small are being forced to rip up their three-year plans and focus on a three-month fight for survival on a daily basis, while people’s jobs are wiped out hour by hour. We fear this situation will only deteriorate unless more action is taken immediately by governments to address it.
“While some governments have been quick to respond with promises of help, the majority of businesses still have no idea how to access these potentially life-saving loans and tax breaks.
“Today we call on governments around the world to make crystal clear how businesses can access funds, which can prevent the hemorrhage of jobs throughout the travel and tourism sector.”
WTTC announced a three-point plan for governments to take to combat coronavirus
- Protect the salaries, incomes and jobs of the millions of people who are at risk
- Extend vital, unlimited interest-free loans to provide liquidity to large and small Travel & Tourism businesses to prevent them from collapse
- Waive or remove all dues, taxes or fiscal charges for 12 months that affect cash flow which can be critical to businesses survival.