As many as 9.2 million US travel and tourism jobs could be lost this year 2020 if barriers to global travel remain in place, new data reveals.

The new figure comes from latest economic modeling by the World Travel & Tourism Council on the impact of Covid-19 and travel restrictions.

The study estimated 7.2 million jobs in the US have already been impacted.

The losses could rise to 9.2 million – more than half of all jobs in the sector in the U.S. in 2019 – if there is no immediate lifting of restrictions on international travel.

Between 10.8 million and 13.8 million jobs within travel and tourism across North America are at “serious risk”.

The WTTC called on president elect Joe Biden to adopt a comprehensive and cost-effective testing regime at departure to avoid transmission, re-open of key ‘air corridors’ such as New York-London and lead international co-ordination.

Travel and tourism contributed $1.84 trillion to the US economy last year and was responsible for more than one in 10 American jobs.

The four main priorities outlined by the WTTC for the new US administration should be:

  • The re-opening of ‘air corridors’ on vital routes, especially those across the Atlantic to re-establish crucial business travel between major economic hubs
  • The introduction of a testing regime at airports, with globally recognised standards to avoid exporting and importing the virus
  • A commitment to ensure safe and seamless travel, with enhanced health and hygiene measures as well as contactless touchpoints
  • Ensure international co-ordination to adopt standards that will allow international travel to restart and rebuild consumer confidence.

The call came as Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye raised the prospect of passenger flights between London and New York returning by Christmas if the UK approves a new testing regime.

Final approval needs the two governments to agree mutual recognition of the validity of each other’s tests.

Such a deal would be a trailblazer and would be followed by other countries worldwide.

Holland-Kaye told The Telegraph: “It’s a scaleable test with a politically and economically important market. It would be very quickly copied by the countries around the world who are looking to the UK and US for leadership.”

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Firstly, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris and we wish them every success in these challenging times.

“The US government has a real opportunity to lead the international co-ordination and save millions of jobs globally and across the US.

“We offer to work closely with the US government to recover international travel whilst avoiding transmission, through a four-point list of top priorities.

“We need to learn to co-exist with this virus and measures should be in place to reactivate both inbound and outbound travel responsibly and avoid further economic and social hardship.”

US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow said: “The numbers show that restarting global travel is an absolute must from an economic and jobs standpoint, and it can be done safely by embracing health and safety guidance and technologies, which have been widely deployed across the travel industry.

“Moving away from quarantines and implementing the practices that we know will work – chief among them rapid, reliable and efficient testing, the universal wearing of masks in public, and the use of contactless technologies – will help restore confidence and growth.”