A prolonged war in Iraq or the Middle East would destroy more than three million travel and tourism jobs globally and eliminate more than $30 billion in economic value this year. That's according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (www.wttc.org), a forum for global business leaders in travel and tourism, which has released two sets of research to explain the potential outcome of a victorious and short war (base case) and the more devastating impact of a prolonged war. The three million jobs can be compared to the 8 million jobs estimated to have been lost after 9/11.

The impact of a prolonged war will not, however, have a uniform impact on all countries, the report says. The United States will suffer a "massive shock with an estimated loss of 450,000 jobs in travel and tourism and a decrease in the economic value of the travel and tourism industry of 3.7 percent." China would lose even more, close to 500,000 jobs, and countries within the European Union, for example, would lose close to 260,000 jobs.

"In the event this worst-case scenario takes place, we will look for immediate and decisive action from governments to protect and secure this vital world industry," said WTTC President Jean-Claude Baumgarten. He called for strong and proactive public-private partnerships to develop emergency contingency plans that would help mitigate the impact of events. Solutions might range from tax breaks to increased levels of investment by governments in security, tourism promotion, and infrastructure.