World travel and tourism is forecast to suffer its sharpest contraction in decades this year at a cost of 10 million jobs.
The World Travel and Tourism Council tore up its previous forecasts at German trade show ITB in Berlin to predict a 3.6% fall in tourism revenue worldwide in 2009 and a bare 0.3% recovery in 2010.
As recently as last August the WTTC was predicting 2% growth in travel income this year and in November it foresaw only a 1% decline.
But WTTC president and chief executive Jean-Claude Baumgarten warned: “All major companies will have to be ready to deal with a further downturn. In a couple of months we may have to reconsider our forecasts.”
Oxford Economics managing director Adrian Cooper, whose economic forecasts underpin the WTTC figures, said: “We are seeing the worst global contraction in 50 years. Even those who keep their jobs are worrying about job security. In the short term, the situation is very uncertain.”
The WTTC foresees global tourism investment falling 5% this year and business travel down by 7%.
The decline is set to lower travel’s estimated contribution to world GDP by almost a full percentage point to 9% in 2010.
However, the WTTC predicts the sector will recover sufficiently to enjoy growth of 4% a year averaged over the 10 years to 2019.