Millions of travel and tourism workers face losing their jobs as flights and holidays continue to be cancelled due to the escalating coronavirus crisis.
Up to 50million roles, including pilots, travel agents and tour guides, are at risk due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned.
The latest figures from the WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, show that travel could be adversely impacted by up to 25% in 2020.
It comes as Italy remains in lockdown while, on Friday, the United States imposed a travel ban on all flights from Europe.
British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet and Norwegian are among airlines that have cancelled thousands of flights scheduled for the next four weeks – sending staff home, in many cases unpaid.
Ryanair said it has offered annual leave and/or unpaid leave to pilots and cabin crew, while Lufthansa has done the same to lower the financial hit of the virus.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: "WTTC figures show the stark impact on the travel and tourism sector of the present Covid-19 outbreak, with analysis now suggesting that up to 50million jobs are at risk in the sector globally.
"When the time is right, WTTC and the global private sector will be ready to help and support the government and countries to recover.
"The Covid-19 outbreak clearly presents a significant threat to the industry as a whole, to those employed within it, and those wishing to continue travelling.
"Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger and more robust by taking all necessary measures to tackle Covid-19 and the understandable concern which surrounds it."
The WTTC, which is headquartered in London, is calling for a series of measures to be taken to enable the swift recovery of the sector once Covid-19 is under control.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: "WTTC figures show the stark impact on the travel and tourism sector of the present Covid-19 outbreak".
These include the removal or simplification of visas, the lifting of the 80-20 'use it or lose it' airport slot rule for airlines, the reduction or elimination of travellers' taxes and support for hard-hit destinations, such as cash-injections for marketing campaigns.
There were 6,729 new coronavirus cases recorded globally on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed number to 134,317. In Italy, more than 1,000 deaths have now been recorded.
All outdoor gatherings with more than 500 people have now been cancelled in Ireland while schools and universities have also been closed until March 29.
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