Pax Global Media
The travel and tourism sector, as it continues to recover from the pandemic, is closing in on its 2019 peak, reports the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), sharing its latest data on Wednesday (April 26).
According to the WTTC’s 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR), global tourism has recovered by more than 95 per cent.
In 2023, the sector is forecast to reach $9.5TN, just five per cent below 2019 pre-COVID levels when travel was at its highest.
The council says 34 countries have already exceeded 2019 levels.
According to the research – a collaboration with Oxford Economics – the global tourism body also forecasts that the sector will recover to 95 per cent of 2019’s job level.
Recovery & growth
Last year, despite economic and geopolitical difficulties, travel and tourism’s recovery continued at pace, growing 22 per cent year-on-year to reach $7.7TN.
This recovery represented 7.6 per cent of the global economy in 2022, the highest sector contribution since 2019, although its global GDP is still 22.9 per cent behind its 2019 peak, says the WTTC.
In 2021 the global sector grew 24.7 per cent year-on-year, and last year it grew a further 22 per cent to reach a GDP contribution of $7.7TN.
WTTC’s research shows that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and prolonged travel restrictions imposed by a number of countries such as China had a significant impact on the global recovery.
But the recent decision by the Chinese government to reopen its borders from January will propel the sector and see it recover to pre-pandemic levels next year, the council says.
From a pre-pandemic high of more than 334MN, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged employment in the sector which saw losses of more than 70MN to bring the total number employed in 2020 to just 264MN, reports the WTTC.
Following the recovery of 11MN jobs in 2021, the sector created 21.6MN new jobs in 2022 to reach more than 295MN globally – one in 11 jobs worldwide.
Spending from overseas visitors grew by a record 82 per cent to reach $1.1TN in 2022, showing that international travel is firmly back on track.
“The travel and tourism sector continues to recover at pace, demonstrating the resilience of the sector and the enduring desire to travel,” stated Julia Simpson, WTTC president & CEO.
“By the end of the year, the sector’s contribution will be within touching distance of the 2019 peak. We expect 2024 to exceed 2019. Travel and tourism will be a growth sector over the next ten years. The recovery will speed up this year as Chinese travellers re-enter the market.”
The decade ahead
The WTTC is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to $15.5TN by 2033 representing 11.6 per cent of the global economy and will employ 430MN people around the world, with almost 12 per cent of the working population employed in the sector.
The latest EIR also reveals that 34 of the 185 countries analyzed in the EIR have now recovered to pre-pandemic levels in terms of GDP contribution.
WTTC forecasts that by the end of 2023, nearly half of the 185 countries will have either fully recovered to pre-COVID levels or be within 95 per cent of full recovery.
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