• Globally 10% of jobs and GDP were in travel and tourism in 2019.
  • 197.5 million jobs in the industry could be at risk if coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantines remain in place, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
  • Caribbean islands rely heavily on tourism for employment. More than 90% of jobs in Antigua and Barbuda in 2019 were in the sector.

Last year one in 10 people worked in travel and tourism-related jobs, contributing $8.9 trillion, or around 10.3%, to the global economy.

In the five years to 2019, the sector was responsible for one in four of all net new jobs created globally.

That was before COVID-19 struck. While many popular destinations are cautiously welcoming visitors again, the industry is continuing to haemorrhage jobs and revenues. And the worst may be yet to come.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated in May that international tourist numbers could fall 60-80% in 2020.

And some 197.5 million jobs in the sector could be lost, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said in June. That figure was based on a “worst-case scenario” where barriers, such as blanket travel restrictions and quarantines, remain in place.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Lifeblood of economies

Travel and tourism is a big employer worldwide, but for some places it’s the main – even only – source of jobs and income

Caribbean islands are most dependent on tourism for jobs.
Caribbean islands are most dependent on tourism for jobs.
Image: WTTC

Caribbean islands rely heavily on travel and tourism for employment – the industry accounted for 90.7% of jobs in Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.

This is according to the latest WTTC report on the economic and employment impact of travel and tourism in 185 countries and 25 geographic or economic regions.

Next was Aruba, where tourism jobs made up 84.3% of total employment last year. St Lucia followed with 78.1%, then the US Virgin Islands (68.8%) and the British Virgin Islands (66.4%).

The glitzy Asian city of Macau (65.5%) and Indian Ocean paradise the Maldives (59.6%) were also on the list.