A staggering one million jobs are being lost every day in the travel and tourism sector due to the sweeping effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

In a press statement, WTTC said the job losses are affecting every level of the industry and are gathering pace, as countries go into lockdown to tackle the virus.

The vast closure of hotels, suspension of the majority of international and domestic airline flights, cessation of cruise lines, and growing global travel bans are having a catastrophic ‘domino effect’ hitting huge numbers of suppliers worldwide.

Small and medium sized businesses at every level within the travel and tourism sector, such as tour operators, travel agents and sole-traders, are especially vulnerable.

WTTC, which is already in talks with over 75 governments around the world, has called for countries to urgently do more to intervene to make clearer how businesses can access potentially life-saving loans, and tax breaks, to prevent them from imminent collapse.

WTTC is mindful that while the the travel and tourism sector is facing an economic meltdown, the pandemic is primarily a global health disaster, which governments are doing all they can to contain the spread and reduce the number of deaths.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “It is heartbreaking that the livelihoods of millions of people who have dedicated their lives to the the travel and tourism sector are being decimated; from waiters to taxi drivers, guides to chefs and caterers, pilots to cleaners.

“The relentless cascade of job losses is plunging millions of families into terrible hardship and debt, fearful of how to buy food and pay their bills. The domino effect of Covid-19 is right now having a massive impact, wiping out an entire economic sector.”

Guevara, who published a heartfelt open letter to governments around the world last Wednesday, also shared that businesses of all size are “forced to rip up their three-year plans and focus on a three-month fight for survival on a daily basis”.

“While some governments have been quick to respond with promises of help, the majority of businesses still have no idea how to access these potentially life-saving loans and tax breaks,” she added.

“Today we call on governments around the world to make crystal clear how businesses can access funds, which can prevent the hemorrhage of jobs throughout the travel and tourism sector.”

The plea for urgent action came following an analysis by WTTC of its members, which represents every level of the sector. Up to 50 million jobs throughout the world are at immediate risk, with up to 320 million jobs facing the impact of the dramatic loss of business.