Border Reopening Could Mean 100,000 New Tourism Jobs

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That’s how many new travel and tourism jobs may be needed when the U.S. lifts certain pandemic travel restrictions for many international visitors, economists at Goldman Sachs estimated, adding to optimism that the move will noticeably help the economy.

Starting in November, people in 33 countries, including many European Union countries, the U.K., China, South Africa, and Brazil will no longer be banned from entering the U.S. if they have proof of vaccination (plus the same negative COVID-19 test air travelers were already required to have,) the White House announced this week. That likely means a big boon to tourist spending, economists say, which in turn will help economic growth. 

The economists at Goldman Sachs estimated the 100,000 jobs would be created at a rate of about 15,000 to 20,000 a month once the restrictions are lifted. The 33 restricted countries have only sent about 5% of the tourists they were sending before the pandemic, while unrestricted countries have been sending about 60%, according to the economists. That means it’s safe to assume the November change will restore tourism to 60% by the end of the first quarter of 2022, they said. And if tourist spending fully recovers by the end of 2023, another 300,000 jobs could be added, Goldman estimated. 

“The re-opening of the U.S. borders to foreigners is a much more important story than it is being credited,”  James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, wrote in an email. He estimated the move could boost growth in gross domestic product next year by as much as 1 percentage point, “with millions of foreigners set to return and spend big.”