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Final Count: U.S. Lost $1.1 Trillion in Economic Impact Last Year

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Travel’s economic footprint in the United States shrank a massive 42 percent last year, from $2.6 trillion to just $1.5 trillion. This is according to end-of-year totals prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Tourism Economics.

The employment devastation was similarly catastrophic: travel-supported jobs fell by 5.6 million in 2020 (16.7 million to 11.1 million) — a whopping 65 percent of all American jobs lost to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Travel and tourism had supported employment for 11 percent of the United States workforce prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new data on travel’s losses arrives as hundreds of industry leaders met virtually with members of Congress for Destination Capitol Hill in March — the U.S. Travel Association’s annual legislative fly-in.

“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.”

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Nearly 300 virtual meetings were held between industry leaders and members of Congress, which focused on measures to provide relief for travel industry businesses, advance stimulus measures to drive travel demand, position the U.S. to welcome back international travel, and to safely restore business travel, meetings, and events.

royal caribbean ship

(Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

These policy priorities follow a year of focused efforts to secure emergency relief for all sectors of travel — without it, many of travel’s job losses may become 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.”

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization that represents all components of the travel industry.

READ MORE: How The Cruise Industry Has Weathered a Financial Hurricane

Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015. She’s been on eight cruises so far, and her favorite onboard activities include trying out the water slides, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, eating lots of food, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her over on her Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.

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