WTTC research reveals Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to France’s GDP dropped by €103 billion in 2020

COVID-19 sparks a dramatic 48.8% collapse in the sector’s contribution to GDP 
193,000 jobs lost, while many more remain protected by job retention scheme
However, the return of international travel this year could see GDP contribution rise sharply and jobs return
WTTC thanks the government for its commitment to the private sector in its efforts to save Travel & Tourism

London, UK: The World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) today reveals the dramatic impact COVID-19 had on France’s Travel & Tourism sector, wiping out €103 billion from the nation’s economy.

The annual EIR from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, shows the sector’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 48.8%.

Following three consecutive years in which the Travel & Tourism sector’s growth outpaced that of the overall economy, its impact on the nation’s GDP fell from €211 billion (8.5%) in 2019, to €108 billion (4.7%), just 12 months later, in 2020.

The year of damaging travel restrictions which brought much of international travel to a grinding halt, resulted in the loss of 193,000 Travel & Tourism jobs across the country.

WTTC believes the true picture could be significantly worse, if not for the government’s job retention scheme which offered a lifeline to thousands of businesses and workers. However, the scheme is hiding the real extent of the losses and the terrible social impact they could bring.

These job losses were felt across the entire Travel & Tourism ecosystem in the country, with SMEs, which make up eight out of 10 of all global businesses in the sector, particularly affected. 

Furthermore, as one of the world’s most diverse sectors, the impact on women, youth and minorities was significant.

The number of those employed in the French Travel & Tourism sector fell from nearly 2.7 million in 2019, to 2.5 million in 2020 - a drop of 7.2%.

However, due to the government’s robust job retention scheme, this figure was significantly lower than the global average fall of 18.5%.

The report also revealed domestic visitor spending declined by 49.8%, and while international spending fared even worse due to more stringent travel restrictions, falling by-52.9%, this was once again significantly better than the global average decline of almost -70%.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO WTTC, said: “The loss of 193,000 Travel & Tourism jobs in France has had a terrible socio-economic impact, leaving huge numbers of people fearing for their future.

“However, the situation could have been far worse if it were not for the government’s job retention scheme, which is one of the best in Europe, and one that saved thousands of jobs and livelihoods under threat and helped to halt the total collapse of the Travel & Tourism sector.

“We must applaud President Macron for his incredible efforts as there are now real grounds for optimism with the country’s vaccine rollout recently hitting its 10 million inoculations target ahead of schedule. WTTC and its members would also like to thank Minister of State for Tourism Lemoyne for his commitment to the private sector in its efforts to save Travel & Tourism. 

“WTTC believes that if restrictions on travel, especially from countries outside of the EU, are relaxed before the busy summer season, alongside a clear roadmap for increased mobility and a comprehensive testing on departure scheme in place, the 193,000 jobs lost in France could return next year.

“Another year of terrible losses can be avoided if the government supports the swift resumption of international travel, which will be vital to powering the turnaround of the French economy.

“Our research shows that if mobility and international travel resume by June this year, the sector’s contribution to global GDP could rise sharply in 2021, by 48.5%, year-on-year.”

As it will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, WTTC strongly believes that we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated. 

WTTC says the key to unlocking safe international travel can be achieved through a clear and science-based framework to including rapid testing before departure, as well as enhanced health and hygiene protocols, including mandatory mask wearing. 

WTTC also supports the introduction of a health pass such as the European Commission’s Digital Green Certificate, which would further enable safe international travel.

These measures will be the foundation to build the recovery of the many millions of jobs lost due to the pandemic.

It would also reduce the terrible social implications these losses have had on communities reliant on Travel & Tourism and upon ordinary people who have been isolated by COVID-19 restrictions.


Download the press release.