The US travel sector faces losing 4.6 million jobs by the end of April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimate by the US Travel Association updates a previous projection of “catastrophic losses” of $355 billion and 4.6 million travel-related jobs this year.

But the latest data shows that $202 billion in direct travel spending and all 4.6 million jobs will disappear before May.

The numbers highlight the need for “aggressive and immediate” action by Washington.

The non-airline travel sector is seeking $250 billion in disaster relief to avoid putting millions of people out of work.

The $355 billion drop in travel spending in the US translates into a total economic loss of $809 billion in economic output – more than six time the impact of 9/11 on travel sector revenue.

US Travel president and chief executive Roger Dow presented the economic impact projections and the travel industry’s appeal for relief to president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence at a White House meeting on Tuesday.

He said: “The news we have for policymakers and the public is very challenging – the 15.8 million American jobs supported by travel are directly in the crosshairs of the health crisis, and the only thing that’s going to protect them is aggressive financial relief right now.

“There are countless stories of travel businesses – 83% of which are small businesses – working hard to do right by their workers.

“But the cold reality is they can’t support their employees if they don’t have any customers, and they don’t have any customers because of the actions needed to halt the spread of coronavirus.

“Millions of Americans shouldn’t have to lose their jobs by acting in the interest of public health.

“We’re witnessing the shutdown of travel. The economic effects of that are already disastrous, but could become worse and permanent unless the government acts now.”

Relief measures requested by US Travel on behalf of the industry include:

  • Establish a $250 billion travel workforce stabilisation fund to keep workers employed
  • Provide an emergency liquidity facility for travel businesses to remain operational
  • Bulk up and streamline loan programmes to support small businesses and their employees.