The travel industry is one of the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest travel business association, travel spending in 2020 is estimated to be worth only US$694 billion.

This value is much lower than the travel expenditure in 2019 which recorded a value of US$1.4 trillion. As a result, the number of workers who lost their jobs in the travel industry.

The job losses were due to a global absence of working hours during 2020 compared to 2019, which amounted to 400 million full-time jobs in the hotel, airline, airport, ground transportation, restaurant and other service providers segments.

In fact, for 10 consecutive years the travel industry has grown with an average growth rate of 5.1% per year. GBTA said the losses incurred by the current pandemic were unprecedented.

The losses from the impact of the pandemic are even estimated to be 10 times greater when compared to the impact of the September 11, 2001 Tragedy and the Great Recession of 2008.

“The pandemic has been devastating for business travel and it is clear our industry will take some time to recover given the challenges we are facing on multiple fronts,” said Dave Hilfman, Interim Executive Director of GBTA, in his official statement recently.

Currently, the economic recovery is underway although it is very uneven between countries and sectors. Hifman continued, “The continued rollout of the vaccine will be central to recovery globally.” 

This year, travel expenditure is estimated to increase by 21% compared to last year, driven by increased vaccination programs and consumer confidence in various countries.

The GBTA estimates that global travel industry spending will only recover in 2025. By the end of 2024, annual travel expenditure is projected to reach US$1.4 trillion, almost matching the pre-pandemic revenue peak in 2019 of US$1.43 trillion.


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