Media Moves

Covid-19 could cost U.S. travel industry $24 bln

March 13, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

The U.S. travel industry is facing losses of $24 billion because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lauren Hirsch reported the news for CNBC:

The U.S. travel and tourism industry could lose at least $24 billion in foreign spending this year because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, according to data produced by Tourism Economics and first seen by CNBC.

That would be equivalent to about seven times more than the industry lost during the SARS outbreak in 2003, according to the data.

Tourism Economics, which tracks all travel spending – including on hotels, restaurants, theme parks and attractions – based its projections on the assumption that the coronavirus would be contained in six months. Foreigners typically spend around $256 billion on U.S. travel and tourism a year. 

The World Health Organization officially dubbed the novel coronavirus, called COVID-19, a global pandemic on Wednesday. There have been more than 124,000 infections worldwide, and at least 4,589 deaths.

The BBC focused on the job loss aspect:

The global coronavirus outbreak means millions of travel and tourism jobs are at risk, says a leading industry body.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the pandemic.

Its chief executive, Gloria Guevara, said the outbreak “presents a significant threat to the industry”.

The news comes after thousands of international flights were cancelled and some insurance firms suspended travel cover for new customers.

New figures from the WTTC suggest that the travel sector could shrink by up to 25% in 2020.

The trade body 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.

But Ms Guevara added: “Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger.”

Reuters’ Jamie Freed and Tracy Rycinski wrote:

The fallout from the coronavirus spread across the Pacific on Friday, with Australian travel firms issuing profit warnings and Japanese carriers cutting capacity, while U.S. airlines rushed to cut flights to Europe in the wake of new travel restrictions.

U.S. travel curbs on much of continental Europe announced by President Donald Trump on Wednesday deepened the sector’s misery that began after the virus emerged in China late last year and reduced traffic.

United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) warned of U.S. travel disruption as the virus spreads domestically and major tourist attractions like Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) theme parks in California and Florida said they would close.

American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) and United said they would continue normal flights to and from Europe for the next week but would be reducing capacity to Europe by around 50% in April.


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