WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than half of the 15.8 million travel-related jobs in the United States have disappeared since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving an unemployment number of 51 percent, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association.
Prepared for U.S. Travel by the research firm Tourism Economics, the jobs figures arrive just days before the Memorial Day holiday weekend—the unofficial start of the summer travel season, for which many travel businesses would have typically prepared with a round of seasonal hiring.
For this Memorial Day holiday weekend, Tourism Economics projects that travel spending in the United States will tally just a third of last year’s levels—$4.2 billion this year versus $12.3 billion in 2019.
Though there is evidence of pent-up demand for travel, Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, said that the public should expect travel to look and feel different for the foreseeable future, as travel businesses embrace practices aimed at promoting the safest possible environment for their customers and employees.
U.S. Travel has led an industry-wide effort to create “Travel in the New Normal” health and safety guidance for travel businesses, drawing on input from top medical professionals and representatives of travel industry segments.
That guidance has particular relevance as states pursue varying strategies for reopening their economies headed into the summer season.
“Whatever government and health authorities decide about the right timing to reopen, we are giving consumers confidence that the travel ecosystem is embracing the most vigorous and well-informed practices for providing the safest possible environment, and those practices adhere to a uniform high standard throughout every phase of a traveler’s journey,” Dow said. “That is critical as the industry prepares for the return of travel, which will bring jobs back and help rebuild the country’s economic strength.”