The U.S. travel and tourism sector lost $766 billion last year, and its contribution to the GDP fell 41% from the $1.9 billion accrued in 2019, according the annual Economic Impact report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The report, released Monday, also showed that travel- and tourism-supported jobs declined 33.2%, to 11.1 million, in 2020. The sector represented 10.5% of total U.S. employment in 2019 but dropped to 7.5% of total employment last year.
The good news, the group reported, is that the vaccine rollout and an expected broader restart of travel this summer could help the industry begin to recover quickly from the pandemic.
"A restart of international travel will create more employment opportunities and empower a resurgence of the country's economy," said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC. "Our research shows that if mobility and international travel resumes by summer this year, the sector's contribution to global Travel & Tourism GDP could rise sharply in 2021."
Subscribe to our newsletter below
While international visitor spend fell by 76.7% last year, from $181.2 billion in 2019 to $42.2 billion in 2020, domestic travel spend was down just 37.1%, according to the report.
And the group said the U.S. market and the broader global tourism economy is steadily trending in the right direction for recovery due to the success of vaccine rollouts and the $14 billion allocated to airlines as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
"WTTC applauds the Biden administration's swift action to effectively fight against Covid-19 through a robust vaccine rollout, firm stance on mask wearing to prevent further spread and providing a much-needed stimulus to the Travel & Tourism sector. These steps are crucial in restarting international travel and reinvigorating the U.S. economy through the travel sector," Guevara said.
* This article originally appeared on Travel Weekly