Ten of the world’s most significant travel and tourism markets suffered the biggest financial collapse in 2020 due to travel restrictions and “unnecessary and crushing” quarantines, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed in its recent report.

Despite suffering a 41 per cent decrease in the gross domestic product (GDP), the United States managed to be the largest global travel and tourism market, in 2020, VisaGuide.World reports.

WTTC previously warned that the US risked losing $155 billion until the end of 2020, due to the decline in the number of visitors, provoked by the COVID-19 situation.

China is ranked in the second position as the second-biggest travel and tourism market, even though it experienced a 59.9 per cent decrease in the contribution to the country’s GDP.

Japan has improved its ranking, moving from fourth to third position, while the travel and tourism industry impact on the country’s GDP decreased just 37 per cent, nearly half that of China.

The temporary ban imposed on non-essential travel by many governments worldwide and subsequently the decline in the number of tourists, led to a 62.3 per cent fall in contribution to the UK’s GDP, during last year.

In 2019, Britain was ranked as the world’s fifth-biggest travel and tourism market, but the recent WTTC’s figures led the country to fall by three places, to number eight.

“Globally, countries experienced an average fall in GDP contribution of 49.1 per cent, while the worldwide economy shrank by just 3.7 per cent last year, showing how travel restrictions have dramatically reduced Travel & Tourism’s contribution to economies around the world,” WTTC President & CEO, Gloria Guevara pointed out.

However, she emphasized that, despite travel restrictions, entry bans, quarantine rules and other preventive measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, both the US and China kept their respective positions as first and second-biggest travel and tourism markets.

Still, due to the devastating situation in some of the top ten travel and tourism markets, Guevara said that WTTC believes that this is evidence “that understandable but misguided actions to curb COVID-19 with ineffective, damaging travel restrictions such as quarantines, do more harm than good, and end up crushing the very economies they were designed to protect.”

Guevara stressed that positive news from across Europe about the gradual lifting of border restrictions raise hopes that many more countries adopt a more risk-based approach.

According to her, this would restore mobility and safety through health and hygiene protocols and rapid testing in addition to the benefit of the vaccination rollout.

4.7 Trillion Dollars Decrease in Travel & Tourism Sector Worldwide, in 2020

WTTC previously revealed that a total of $4.7 trillion financial loss have the travel and tourism sector suffered, in countries worldwide, in 2020, while the contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 49.1 per cent compared to 2019, or a 3.7 per cent decrease of the global economy in 2020.

The travel and tourism sector contributed 10.4 per cent to global GDP in 2019, a share which marked a 5.5 per cent decline in 2020 when the Coronavirus started to spread in countries worldwide. The restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the disease also resulted in a staggering decrease in the industry’s contribution to the GDP.

A total of 62 million jobs were lost during last year, or an 18.5 per cent decrease, with only 272 million engaged in this sector globally, compared to 334 million, in 2019.

“The threat of job losses persists as many jobs are currently supported by government retention schemes and reduced hours, which without a full recovery of Travel & Tourism could be lost,” WTTC has emphasized.

The report shows that domestic visitor spending declined by 45 per cent, while international visitor spending marked a 69.4 per cent decrease during last year.

Before the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry accounted for one in four of all new jobs worldwide, to 10.6 per cent of all jobs (334 million) and 10.4 per cent of global GDP (US$9.2 trillion). At the same time, international visitor spending amounted to US$1.7 trillion in 2019 (6.8 per cent of total exports, 27.4 per cent of global services exports).