A warning has been issued suggesting that up to 50 million travel and tourism jobs could be at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council estimate that the global travel sector could contract by up to 25% this year.

This is the equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel and could lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12%-14%.

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WTTC coronavirus call:

The WTTC is calling on governments to take several steps to protect the industry, including:

  • Removing or simplifying visas where possible, as well as reducing costs
  • Relaxing “unnecessary barriers” at ports and airports
  • Reduce travellers’ taxes such as Air Passenger Duty
  • Increase budgets for promoting travel destinations.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC figures show the stark impact on the travel and tourism sector of the present Covid-19 outbreak with analysis now suggesting that up to 50 million jobs are at risk in the sector globally.

“When the time is right, WTTC and the global private sector will be ready to help and support the government and countries to recover.

“The Covid-19 outbreak clearly presents a significant threat to the industry as a whole, to those employed within it, and those wishing to continue travelling.

“Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger and more robust by takingall necessary measures to tackle Covid-19 and the understandable concern which surrounds it.”

The call came as the organisation condemned president Donald Trump’s ban on European travel to the US.

The restriction will have a damaging impact on the US economy yet will not stop the spread of the coronavirus, the WTTC argued.

The ban on visitors from 26 European countries – excluding the UK and Ireland – is due to come into effect today (Friday).

An estimated 850,000 visitors from the European countries involved would normally travel during the next 30 days to the US, spending $3.4 billion.

Two of the airlines most impacted by the ban – Delta Air Lines and United – are both US carriers.

Guevara said: “Coronavirus is already in the United States and sadly patients are already passing away as a result.

“We all share the priority to stop the spread and should take all necessary actions.

“However, the new travel ban will have a dangerous economic impact on the US and many other countries, and there is little evidence to show this will stop the spread of Covid-19.

“Rather than an outright ban, the priority should be on public health within the country and mitigating the potential harm to individuals, that will be impacted by this ban.

“The virus is already a pandemic and is spreading within communities domestically.

“The best approach is to conduct thorough testing and put in place isolation measures which are highly effective, as has been seen in other countries.”

The European Travel Commission, European Tourism Association (Etoa), United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations  consider the Trump ban as “not evidenced-based”.

Instead the 30-day suspension of travel from Europe’s Schengen zone is adding “more confusion to a beleaguered industry that will likely add more losses to its already-damaged business with long term consequences for the future recovery of jobs and economic growth”.

Etoa chief executive Tom Jenkins said: “The president’s statement is puzzling “Having downplayed the significance of the crisis – for which there is some argument – he then stigmatizes an entire continent.

“This is a global crisis and we need global understanding.

“As it stands this move disproportionately damages inbound tourism to the US and punctures confidence in Europe as a destination. Fear is more damaging and spreads faster than a virus.”