The World Travel & Tourism Council is urging prime minister Boris Johnson and the UK government to work with other countries to “save the struggling travel and tourism sector”.
More than 100 of the world’s major travel and global business leaders have backed the move.
They are calling on the UK government for “strong leadership and unprecedented international collaboration” to rescue the sector and millions of jobs.
A joint letter from the industry leaders has been sent to Johnson and nine other heads of state of the G7 group of countries – Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the US – as well as Australia, South Korea and Spain, the world’s major source markets.
The letter was also sent to Labour leader Keir Starmer and other international opposition leaders, highlighting the non-partisan nature of the crisis.
If the global leaders fail to come together, WTTC warns there will be “irreversible damage” to the travel and tourism sector, along with rising job losses.
Travel and tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs around the world but the WTTC says there is “no clear or internationally coordinated effort to protect this uniquely exposed sector”.
Gloria Guevara (pictured), WTTC president and chief executive, said: “We have to ask – who is in charge of getting us out of this crisis and will lead the world to save the jobs and secure the futures of the many millions of people globally?
“Critical action is urgently needed. The priority to date has been domestic matters, any measures taken in silos moving forward will only worsen the plight of millions of ordinary people.
“From cabin crew to hotel staff, travel agents to call centre agents, waiters to housekeepers, and many more who are the unsung heroes who depend upon a thriving travel and tourism sector…the voices of ordinary people must be heard.
“During the 2008 financial crisis, strong global leadership and public- private collaboration enabled us to recover in a shorter timeframe.
“We cannot see the same collaboration amongst today’s leaders.
“It is vital that the leaders of these countries come together and prioritise rescuing the world from this unprecedented crisis, by acting in an effective and coordinated way to bring back more than 120 million jobs and livelihoods affected.”
Backing the call were bosses at airlines, such as British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Jet2, WestJet and Virgin Atlantic.
Business leaders from top international hotel groups, such as Accor, Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Meliá Hotels and Radisson have also supported the initiative.
Endorsement has also come from major tour operators and travel companies, such as Abercrombie & Kent, American Express, Carlson Wagonlit, Expedia, Travelport, Tui and Uber.
The letter outlines four measures which need a concerted international framework and leadership to combat the pandemic.
They include wearing masks on transport and indoors; rapid testing and contact tracing; quarantine for positive tests only; and the adoption of global health and safety protocols.