As many as 174 million travel and tourism jobs could be lost this year if barriers to global travel remain in place.

The “devastating” new estimate comes from latest economic data by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

It represents a slight improvement on 197 million job losses projected in a previous study in June following a recovery in domestic travel in countries such as China.

If current Covid travel restrictions are removed sooner, as many as 31 million jobs could be saved by the end of 2020, the analysis shows. This equates to more than 500,000 jobs saved every day.

Prolonged travel curbs could also eliminate ¢4.7 trillion in the sector’s contribution to global GDP, equating to a loss of 53% compared to 2019. 

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Our latest data reveals the gravity of the long-term negative impact facing the global travel and tourism sector, if we don’t work together to resume international travel immediately.

“As travel restrictions around the world remained in place over the summer months, our estimates report an increase from 121 million to 143 million jobs lost.

“In the space of just four months, our study has shown a further 22 million jobs under threat worldwide. This is devastating news, and we need international coordinated action now.”

She warned: “The sector’s recovery will be delayed even further, with more jobs lost, unless quarantines are replaced with rapid, cost-effective testing at airports on departure, and air corridors.

“The longer we wait, the more the ailing travel and tourism sector faces total collapse.”