Tourism at an all-time-high

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is projecting a record-breaking year for travel and tourism in 2024.

According to the WTTC the travel and tourism sector’s global economic contribution is set to reach an all-time high of USD11.1-trillion in 2024.

The global tourism body’s 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) report states that travel and tourism will contribute an additional USD770-billion over its previous record, stamping its authority as a global economic powerhouse, generating one in every 10 dollars worldwide.

As the global sector soars past its pre-pandemic prosperity, WTTC expects 142 countries of 185 analysed will be outperforming previous national records.

In partnership with Oxford Economic, WTTC’s latest EIR showcases a sector briming with opportunities, underpinning almost 348-million jobs globally. This represents an increase of more than 13.6-million jobs compared to its highest point in 2019.

International visitor spending is expected to come within touching distance of the 2019 peak, to reach USD1.89-trillion, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend more than in any year on record to hit USD5.4-trillion.

A look back on last year

Despite economic uncertainties and geopolitical shake-ups, the travel and tourism sector is thriving. With an economic injection of nearly USD10-trillion, the sector matched its pre-pandemic zenith, flexing its resilience and proving its critical role in the global economy.

Representing 9.1% of global GDP at just over USD9.9-trillion in 2023, travel and tourism’s financial footprint was the largest it’s been since the golden year of travel in 2019, trailing its peak by a mere 4%.

The sector also bolstered its workforce by an additional 27.4-million, propelling the total to nearly 330-million jobs worldwide.

International spending increased by 33.1% to reach USD1.63-trillion, underscoring a vibrant comeback story for many countries around the world, with domestic spending increasing by more than 18% to reach almost USD5-trillion.

While 2023 set the stage, demonstrating the unwavering passion for travel, paving the way for a record-breaking year in 2024.

A global powerhouse

This growth comes despite two of the world’s biggest tourism markets lagging in terms of international visitor spend, with both the U.S. and China seeing a far slower return of international tourist spend.

Last year in the U.S., international visitor spending remained more than a quarter below the peak of 2019, while China’s visitor spend remained almost 60% down.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO says that despite global uncertainty, the travel and tourism sector remains a global economic powerhouse.

“This isn’t just about breaking records. We’re no longer talking about a recovery. This is a story of the sector back at its best after a few difficult years, providing a significant economic boost to countries around the world and supporting millions of jobs.

“There’s a risk, however. We need the U.S. and Chinese governments to support their national travel and tourism sectors. The U.S. and China will continue to suffer whilst other countries are seeing international visitors return much faster,” says Simpson.

The future of travel and tourism

Looking ahead, WTTC is forecasting a promising future for the next decade, characterised by robust growth and unparalleled career opportunities.

By 2034, the sector will supercharge the global economy with a staggering USD16-trillion, making up 11.4% of the entire economic landscape.

This booming industry is also set to be a job creation juggernaut, providing employment for 449-million people worldwide. Nearly 12.2% of the workforce will be powering this vibrant sector, showcasing travel and tourism’s pivotal role in global employment.

With more than three quarters of the countries analysed expected to exceed the high point of 2019, in terms of GDP contribution,

Simpson says that travel and tourism is on the brink of its most transformative era yet, promising prosperity, innovation, and connection on a scale we’ve yet to see.

Tourism at an all-time-high

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