Travel Loses $1.1 Trillion in US Economic Output

The damage to the travel industry is coming into full focus.

In partnership with research firm Tourism Economics., the U.S. Travel Association found that travel’s economic footprint in the United States shrank 42 percent last year, from $2.6 trillion to $1.5 trillion, a deficit of more than $1 trillion.

Travel industry employment also experienced a devastating blow during 2020. Travel-supported jobs fell by 5.6 million in 2020 (16.7 million to 11.1 million), which is 65 percent of all American jobs lost to the economic fallout of the pandemic, according to U.S. Travel. 

Travel and tourism had supported employment for 11 percent of the U.S. workforce prior to the onset of the coronavirus.

“While the gradual progress of vaccinations has provided hope that a turnaround may be on the horizon, it is still unclear when travel demand will be able to fully rebound on its own,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “With the travel industry suffering such a disproportionate share of losses, policymakers need to understand that a nationwide economic recovery effectively hinges on a travel recovery.”

This news comes as travel industry leaders are virtually meeting with members of Congress for Destination Capitol Hill, the U.S. Travel Association’s annual legislative fly-in.

On March 17, 2021, nearly 300 virtual meetings between members of the travel industry and legislators will focus on measures that include relief for travel industry businesses, the advancement of stimulus measures to drive travel demand, positioning the U.S. to welcome back international travelers and safely restoring business travel, meetings and events.

U.S. Travel warns that not making travel a priority could make these job losses permanent.

“The latest round of relief was helpful to our industry, but there are a number of important steps that still must be taken, especially extending the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program and passing the key package of tax incentives in the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes. “The PPP is set to expire in just two weeks, yet the economic effects of the pandemic will continue to harm the industry far beyond that point.”

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