WTTC: U.S. economy faces daily loss of nearly $198M due to travel restrictions

Latest research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on inbound international travel spend has found that the U.S. economy faces a daily potential loss of nearly $198 million should current border restrictions remain.

Based on 2019 levels, of the top 20 most important markets in terms of inbound spending, less than half are currently granted access to the U.S., severely impacting the recovery of the country’s travel & tourism sector. Data is based on the inbound spending to the U.S. by countries that are still closed off to travel as listed by the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. remains closed to many of the largest contributors to the U.S. economy in terms of visitor spending in 2019, before the pandemic struck, including the U.K. (8%), Germany (4%), France (3%) and Italy (2%).

From these figures, the U.S. economy continues to endure substantial financial hardship due to current inbound travel protocols, with monthly potential losses of more than $1.2 billion, amounting to approximately $283 million per week or $40 million each day, from the U.K. market alone.

The successful rollout of vaccines across the U.K. (66% fully vaccinated), Germany (62%), France (62%) and Italy (63%) have led to the loosening of travel restrictions. However, while some countries have recently imposed further restrictions on non-vaccinated visitors from the U.S., it is time for the U.S. to open its borders, and give the travel & tourism sector, and its economy, a much-needed boost, noted the WTTC.

While the U.S. currently holds the position as the largest global travel & tourism market, the country runs the risk of falling in ranking should a clear roadmap on reengaging with international leisure and business travelers not occur at the start of the fall season. Consistency in domestic travel alone will not achieve full economic recovery for the country.

WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report found that travel & tourism supported more than 16.5 million jobs (10.5% of total U.S. employment) in 2019. With business travel to the U.S. accounting for $358 billion in 2019 (30% of total spend), financial growth cannot occur with current mobility to the country cut-off.

“The U.S. economy and global ranking in GDP contribution is at risk with every day the U.S. borders remain closed to travelers,” said Julia Simpson, president/CEO, WTTC. “The U.S. economy faces losing hundreds of millions by remaining closed to key source markets such as the U.K and the EU.”

She continued, “Keeping the U.S. safe is the top priority but blocking whole countries where COVID-19 is under control will cause long-term damage to livelihoods in the U.S. Entry should be based on an individual’s status not by country. As a leader in both leisure and the global business sector, the U.S. is in the unique position to set the tone for a safe restart of the travel & tourism sector. WTTC urges the Biden Administration to set a clear roadmap for reopening to international travel.”

WTTC research shows the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on the U.S.’ travel & tourism sector, with its contribution to the national GDP seeing a decrease from $1.87 trillion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion in 2020.

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