A new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals the true extent of staff shortages in America’s Travel & Tourism sector seen over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic’s second year.
Conducted in partnership with Oxford Economics, the analysis uncovered a labor shortfall of nearly 700,000 that continued over the course of 2021. While the sector was obviously devastated last year, with only moderate recovery taking place this year, the forecast for the workforce in 2022 is looking slightly better.
The figures from WTTC indicate that roughly 480,000 direct-impact Travel & Tourism positions in the U.S., or one in every 13 jobs, will remain unfilled next year.
For the first time, the report provided an analysis of the labor shortage facing the Travel & Tourism industry in the U.S., as well as other major global markets, including the U.K., France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The study focused particularly on the second-half period between July and December for both 2021 and 2022.
With 62 million Travel & Tourism workers around the globe having lost their jobs due to COVID-19, it seems the labor force isn’t too keen to return to their pre-pandemic roles. While the demand for travel and hospitality has now increased over the course of this year, labor supply hasn’t risen to match industry demand, especially during the second half of 2021.
Although unemployment rates are decreasing and travel demand is increasing, Travel & Tourism businesses find themselves unable to fill job vacancies. WTTC’s report found that there were 6.6 million open U.S. Travel & Tourism sector positions during the second half of 2021. The organization’s projected labor shortages totaled 690,000, essentially one out of every nine jobs going unfilled, or an 11-percent shortfall.
WTTC expressed concerns that continued employee shortages “could significantly hamper Travel & Tourism recovery in the U.S.” and slow a return of the industry’s much-anticipated economic contributions to the nation’s communities.
All of the countries included in the study are currently contending with significant staffing shortages. WTTC said that these labor shortages are now a key issue facing the global Travel & Tourism sector, and that, while 2022 promises to bring some changes in terms of supply and demand, the trend is likely to continue.
Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said in a press release: “The U.S. economic recovery could be put in serious jeopardy if we don’t have enough people to fill these jobs as travelers return. If we cannot fill these vacancies, it could seriously threaten the survival of Travel & Tourism businesses across the U.S. Companies dependent on tourism have been hanging on for the upside; this is just another blow that many may not survive.”
The global tourism body has gone as far as to develop some solutions that it’s recommending businesses and governments put into action, including “facilitating labor mobility” and offering remote working options, supplying safety nets, “upskilling and reskilling” employees, retaining talent, and both providing opportunities for continuing education and apprenticeships.
For more information, visit wttc.org.