A total of $59.2 billion financial loss and a 53 percent decrease in contribution to GDP has been caused by the Coronavirus pandemic to Canada’s travel and tourism sector last year.

In addition, the devastating situation provoked by the COVID-19 left 373,000 people engaged in the country’s travel and tourism sector jobless, facing many difficulties, VisaGuide.World reports.

According to WTTC’s Senior Vice President, Virginia Messina, such losses revealed by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) ’s Economic Impact Report (EIR) have left “huge numbers of people fearing for the future”.

Based on EIR’s report, in 2019, Canada’s travel and tourism sector contribution to GDP was $111.6 billion or 6.4 percent, while just 12 months later, it marked a 3.2 percent decrease to $52.4 billion.

In addition, the number of women, youth, and minorities employed in the travel and tourism sector in the North American country declined from 1.8 million in 2019 to 1.4 million in 2020, or (20.9 percent decrease).

Domestic visitor spending decreased by 51 percent last year. In comparison, international spending dropped by 71.1 percent due to stringent travel restrictions imposed to prevent the virus’s further spread.

Even though the decrease in the travel and tourism sector was profound last year, the figures could have been worse if not for the government’s Emergency Wage Subsidy scheme, which helped employers keep their jobs amid the COVID-19 situation, EIR’s report stressed.

“However, the situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government’s Emergency Wage Subsidy scheme which supported up to 75 percent of wage subsidy to eligible employers and in turn, allowed many to keep their jobs in the suffering Travel & Tourism sector,” WTTC’s Senior Vice President pointed out.

Messina believes that as the country’s vaccine rollout has exceeded 24 million shots administered, all those jobs lost in 2020 in the travel and tourism industry could return this year.

“WTTC believes that if the vaccine roll out picks up pace, and restrictions for travel internationally are relaxed before the busy summer season, along with a clear roadmap for increased mobility and with comprehensive testing on departure in place, we predict the 373,000 jobs lost in Canada could return this year,” WTTC’s Senior Vice President pointed out.

However, according to her, Canada’s government move to protect jobs is not sustainable in the long term. But, WTTC predicts that further financial losses could be prevented if the country’s authorities would further allow safe international travel.

“WTTC believes that another year of terrible losses can be avoided if the government supports the swift resumption of international travel, which will be vital to powering the turnaround of the Canadian economy,” the statement published by WTTC reads.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has registered more than 1,391,174 COVID-19 infection cases and more than 25,712 deaths, according to the figures published by the World Health Organization.

Due to such figures, the country continues to keep in place some of its preventive measures imposed to stop the spread of the virus. Authorities in Canada oblige travelers from other countries to quarantine for two weeks upon their arrival.

However, such a decision could soon be removed as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced plans to ease border restrictions for all persons who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, the country’s government is also attempting to discontinue the quarantine in hotels rule, which is imposed on all travelers.