Europe’s travel and tourism sector lags global recovery

  • The contribution of the European travel and tourism sector to GDP will increase by less than a quarter this year
  • Sector employment remains stagnant in 2021, however, with the right measures, the number of people employed in the sector next year could exceed pre-pandemic levels
  • With millions more European citizens fully vaccinated, international spending is expected to rebound by nearly 80% in 2022

London, UK – The latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the annual recovery of the European travel and tourism sector could only reach a growth of 23.9% this year.

WTTC data indicates that this slow recovery is due to travel restrictions throughout the year, particularly in the first half of the year, which continued to hamper the recovery of the sector.

Before the pandemic hit, the European travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP was €1.92 trillion (9.5% of the total economy).

However, according to the research, and based on the current recovery rate, the sector’s contribution to GDP could increase by less than a quarter (23.9%) in 2021, below the expected global sector growth of 30 .7%.

The data also reveals that in 2022, the contribution of travel and tourism to the European economy could see a further year-on-year increase of 38%, representing an increase of €439 billion.

Although far from pre-pandemic levels, growth in the sector saw a slight increase due to the successful roll-out of vaccination and intra-European mobility, supported by the EU’s digital COVID certificate, which was launched in early July this year. But with borders closed internationally, Europe is struggling to recover.

The global tourism body says that while increased domestic travel has brought some relief, it is not enough to deliver the full recovery the region needs to save Europe’s economy and millions of jobs.

The research then shows that while domestic spending is expected to increase by 30.2% year-on-year in 2021, international spending is expected to see a smaller increase of just 19.3% this year, to €242 billion, well in below pre-pandemic levels, by €560 billion in 2019.

Next year, domestic spending is expected to increase by 27.7%. However, with restrictions eased in many European countries and with millions more European citizens fully vaccinated, international spending is expected to rebound 77.2% year-on-year.

In 2019, the European travel and tourism sector supported over 38 million jobs. After suffering a loss of 3.6 million jobs last year when the pandemic all but halted international travel, job growth is expected to remain stagnant this year.

However, WTTC research reveals an expected 15.7% increase in jobs in 2022, increasing by 5.5 million jobs to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO noted: “Our research shows that while Europe’s travel and tourism sector is slowly starting to recover, there is still a long way to go.”

“With the borders of many European countries now open to international travel for fully vaccinated travellers, the region’s economic recovery will accelerate next year. This could restore millions of jobs and livelihoods that depend on a thriving travel and tourism sector.”

“We need governments to replace the patchwork of restrictions with a harmonized set of rules for travel.”

According to research conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of the WTTC, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and job growth could be more positive this year and next, if five vital measures are followed by governments around the world. whole world.

These measures include allowing fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, regardless of their origin or eventual destination.

Second, the implementation of digital solutions that allow all travelers to easily prove their COVID status (such as the EU digital COVID certificate), thus speeding up the process at borders around the world.

Third, for safe international travel to fully resume, governments must recognize all vaccines authorized by WHO and fourth, continued support for the COVAX/UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.

Finally, the continued implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols, which will build customer confidence.

If these five vital measures are followed before the end of 2021, research shows that the impact on the economy and jobs across Europe could be considerable.
The contribution of travel and tourism to GDP could increase by 28.8% (almost 270 billion euros) by the end of this year, followed by an annual increase of another 40.3% (more than 480 billion euros) in 2022.

International spending would also benefit from government action, and would see growth of 26.3% this year, and a significant boost of 81.8% in 2022.
The growth of the sector could also have a positive impact on employment, with a 4% increase in jobs in 2021. However, with the right measures to support travel and tourism, the number of people employed in the sector will increase. next year could exceed pre-pandemic levels. with an annual increase of 17.6%, reaching nearly 43 million jobs.

Earlier this week, the WTTC also joined forces with a number of travel and tourism associations such as Airports Council International, the European Travel Commission and the Cruise Lines International Association, calling on EU governments to remove all ‘traffic light’ systems and move towards a risk-based traveler approach, instead of a risk-based whole country.

Together, the WTTC and the associations believe that this approach would further accelerate the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.

About WTTC

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) represents the global travel and tourism private sector. Members include 200 CEOs, Presidents and Presidents of leading global travel and tourism companies from all geographies spanning all industries. For over 30 years, the WTTC has been committed to raising awareness among governments and the public of the economic and social importance of the travel and tourism sector.

According to WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, in 2020, a year in which it was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and tourism contributed 5.5% to global GDP and were responsible for 272 million jobs.

WTTC Press Office
WTTC

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