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Over 9M jobs could be lost in the travel & tourism industry: RPT

World Travel & Tourism Council CEO Gloria Guevara joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down a new report highlighting how the coronavirus pandemic could impact the travel and tourism industry.

Video Transcript

- I want to take a look right now at the travel sector, and how they are performing today. In the green, of course, on the news of that vaccine optimism, which of course gives everyone some renewed hopes that they are going to be able to get on a plane or on a cruise ship going forward. Right now, we've got Carnival, Royal, and Norwegian cruise lines all in the green. Carnival and Norwegian both up over 6% right now. And when we're looking over at the airlines, Delta, United, and American also in the green, with United and Delta both up over 5% right now.

Well, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the US is going to lose more than 9 million jobs this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the travel restrictions that are associated with it. We're joined now by Gloria Guevara, CEO of World Travel and Tourism Council. Gloria, thank you so much for joining us today.

So I know that the WTTC found that 9.2 million jobs could be lost. 7.2 million have been lost already. This is, of course, just in the travel and tourism sector. I'm wondering if you guys are seeing that these losses could be permanent, or are they just going to be temporarily lost until the economy recovers, and we get this vaccine widely available?

GLORIA GUEVARA: Well, unfortunately, some of those are permanent. But the vast majority hopefully are temporary. Everything depends on the actions and actually, the implementations in the next couple of weeks, or before the end of the year, so that we can bring back some of those jobs. If we can not resume international travel, the number can even grow further. But as I said before, these temporary losses can become permanent.

- So to that point, Gloria, as you were mentioning, on the international side, we are seeing Europe-- many countries there closing their borders, shutting down travel, even inside of Europe. And here at home, we have coronavirus surging, over 100,000 cases a day. A lot of Americans are saying that they do not want to travel for the holidays. Of course, we have news from Dr. Fauci that you could go and kill your relatives if you go and see them for the holidays. So what is the concern here, especially over the next two months, with Christmas, with Thanksgiving-- big travel days for the sector-- what do you see coming, as the virus continues to surge?

GLORIA GUEVARA: We believe at WTTC-- as we have done a lot of research from in the past, and also talked to multiple experts from around the world, and let's also remember that we analyzed countries that are doing better than others-- that we can coexist with the virus, but we need to do that in a responsible way. So what we have seen in countries, for instance, that have already recovered domestic, is because they have followed some specific protocols. They do testing before departure. They are able to isolate people infected. And at the same time, they have been able to resume travel.

Now unfortunately, in the countries where we don't see those protocols in place, where we don't see mandatory wearing the mask, where we don't see the physical distance, for instance, or we don't see enough testing, or even testing before departure, that's when we see second waves. I live in London, as you know. I'm not in London right now. But in the UK, and in some countries in Europe, unfortunately, we have seen a lot of community-community transmission. And that will continue, and it will impact the holidays.

And what we are seeing in other countries, where they have done a better job containing the spread, that we can learn to co-exist with the virus, as long as we all wear the mask, and at the same time, we have testing before departure. And we can also have contact tracing, and isolate the people infected. So there is hope, the vaccine is coming. But we cannot wait for the vaccine to be widely available [INAUDIBLE] We need to do testing before departure so that we can isolate infected people.

- So I hear you mentioning some things that we can do right now to sort of make sure that people can travel in a safer way. Looking here in the United States, then, do we need to make sure-- do all the airlines need to require that everyone have a coronavirus test with a negative result before they board a plane? Do you think that all of the airlines need to do what, Delta, for example, is doing, and saying, listen, we're not going to be booking on the middle seat to allow everyone and to allow customers to have a little bit more distance? Because we are seeing some airlines-- and I've been on a couple of them, American, for example, Spirit-- where they're crowding people into these planes. Are you saying, hey, I know that you might be taking a little bit of a hit, but you guys need to reduce the capacity?

GLORIA GUEVARA: Well, let me just tell you. According to the experts-- and again, I'm not an expert on this-- but what I can tell you is the information that we've received. The air from the inside of the planes is being purified every three minutes. If you do an analysis and understand how that works, and actually how clean that air-- it's similar to an operational room for instance, in the middle of a surgery, right? That is good. That, plus wearing your mask, plus having the right protocols in place, plus using the sanitizer-- I think that should help you.

Basically, I think the US airlines are following that. And as you know, also, the US airlines are also doing testing. United announced the testing to Hawaii, for instance. The pilot has been very successful. American also has that, as well, Delta and others. So I think it's a combination of multiple solutions, not one solution for everything. But what's key here is to have some protocols for everyone.

We all should be wearing the mask, for instance. In every single form of transportation in the world, the mask should be mandatory, as you see in South Korea. And South Korea doesn't have lockdowns. They have recovered and restored travel. They're recovering quite well. Same thing with Iceland, Greece, and many other countries around the world.

And in the countries that don't follow the protocols, that's when you struggle and have some challenges. So I wouldn't be that worried for the middle seat. That helps. But I think what's more important is wearing the mask, using sanitizer, and also making sure that we all follow the right protocols.

- All right, some good tips there. Gloria Guevara, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, thanks so much for joining us.

GLORIA GUEVARA: Thank you.