The damage to the tourism sector is becoming increasingly clear.
Working with research firm Tourism Economics, the U.S. Travel Association found that the economic footprint of travel in the U.S. fell 42% last year, from $2.6 trillion to $1.5 trillion, a shortfall of more than $1 trillion.
Employment in the tourism sector also took a devastating hit in 2020. According to U.S. Travel, the number of jobs in the travel industry will drop by 5.6 million by 2020 (from 16.7 million to 11.1 million), representing 65% of all jobs lost in America due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, 11% of the U.S. workforce was employed in the travel and tourism industry.
While gradual progress on vaccinations offers hope that a turning point is near, it is still unclear when demand for travel services will fully recover on its own, said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the American Travel Association. Because the tourism industry accounts for such a disproportionate share of losses, policymakers must understand that the recovery of the national economy really depends on the recovery of the travel industry.
The news comes at a time when travel industry leaders are meeting virtually with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, the American Travel Association’s annual legislative flight.
The 17th. March 2021, nearly 300 virtual meetings between the travel industry and lawmakers will focus on policies that support the travel industry, promote travel demand measures, position the U.S. to welcome back international travelers, and safely restore business travel, meetings and events.
U.S. Travel warns that if travel is not prioritized, these job losses could be permanent.
The latest wave of support has been helpful to our industry, but there are still important steps to take, such as the extension of the Wage Protection Program and the passage of a major package of tax cuts in the Hospitality and Commerce Jobs Recovery Act, said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association. The PPP expires in just two weeks, but the economic impact of the pandemic will occupy the industry well beyond that date.