Passengers at Rome's Fiumicino international airport on March 13 2020. Picture: AFP/ANDREAS SOLARO
Passengers at Rome's Fiumicino international airport on March 13 2020. Picture: AFP/ANDREAS SOLARO

Madrid — Extreme measures by governments across the world to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus could cost the tourism industry 50-million jobs.

The pandemic that has left hundreds of planes grounded and dozens of cruises docked will affect up to 25% of the trips estimated for 2020, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

“For many companies it is a matter of how long they can go on without generating any income, and generating large losses as they reimburse trips,” MD Virginia Messina said by phone. “The tourism sector will inevitably suffer.”

The WTTC estimate suggests that about 16% of worldwide tourism jobs are at risk, based on about 319-million people employed in the sector in 2018.

The most affected businesses will be those depending on Chinese travelers, as they are the world’s top-spending tourists.

The consequences will be “devastating” for cruise companies, Messina said. Some countries banned the ships from docking in their ports after the coronavirus was detected on several voyages.

The tourism industry is used to shocks and has become more resilient over time, she said. A WTTC study of 90 different crises found that it now takes the industry about 10 months to recover, down from 24 months a decade ago.

Bloomberg