April 05, 2024

WTTC Predicts Record Year for Global Tourism

Tourism's global economic impact will exceed prepandemic levels this year, reaching an all-time high of $11.1 trillion, 7.5% above 2019, according to projections from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

"I think it's fair to say that travel is not just back, it is booming," said WTTC CEO Julia Simpson. "That is what we're seeing at a global level."

According to a study done in partnership with Oxford Economics, tourism will help generate one in every 10 dollars worldwide in 2024. Simpson said tourism in 75% of countries worldwide is expected to exceed 2019 numbers this year.

Domestic visitor spending is expected to climb 10.3%, to a record $5.4 trillion, the study found, while international spend will still slight lag 2019 numbers, at $1.9 trillion, down 0.8%.

U.S. and China have issues to resolve
This growth comes despite two of the world's biggest tourism markets, the U.S. and China, lagging in terms of international visitor spend.

"We need the U.S. and Chinese governments to support their national travel and tourism sectors," she said. "The U.S. and China will continue to suffer whilst other countries are seeing international visitors return much faster."

As far as factors hurting the U.S. inbound market, Simpson cited the strength of the dollar, higher airfares post-Covid and some air routes having not come back, along with the backlog on visa wait times from countries such as Brazil and India.

Simpson said that with major events coming to the U.S. in the next few years, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics in Los Angeles, the U.S. will hopefully "iron out some of these wrinkles" in the visa system.

Travel's growth outpaces GDP growth
Overall, the study found that travel's contribution to U.S. GDP was expected to be up 11.4% this year compared to 2019. And while international visitor spend is still expected to be down almost 10% over, domestic spending is projected to climb by 13.8%.

Looking ahead to the next decade, Simpson said the study found that the travel sector will grow to a value of $16 trillion globally, representing 11.4% of the world economy.

"It shows that our sector is going to be growing faster than global GDP," she said.

Moral and economic responsibility
With that growth, Simpson said, comes responsibility.

"Tourism lives or dies by the beauty around us, whether it's the beaches as ski slopes or the mountains or the coral reef," she said. "It's in our own interests morally but also commercially that we protect the beauty that we have around us."

She noted the WTTC's finding in 2023 that from 2010 to 2019, travel and tourism GDP grew 4.3% annually on average, while its environmental footprint only increased by 2.4% annually.

"This decoupling has occurred through greater efficiencies," she said of the industry's use of greenhouse gas emitters like electricity and transport.

Copyright 2024 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.travelweekly.com. By Johanna Jainchill.

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