Travel and tourism accounted for one in five new jobs around the world in 2017 in what was “a bumper year” for the sector, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Research study, published this week, shows the sector was responsible for seven million new jobs worldwide as global travel and tourism grew 4.6% – 50% faster than the world economy.
However, the study shows the US losing global market share despite remaining the world’s biggest travel and tourism market.
Tourism in the US grew by just half the worldwide rate at 2.3%.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive said: “Governments around the world are realising the extraordinary benefits of tourism.”
The sector outperformed the global economy for a seventh consecutive year, outpacing growth in sectors including manufacturing (4.2%), retail and wholesale (3.4%), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (2.6%) and financial services (2.5%).
Guevara reported: “2017 was the best year on record for travel and tourism.
“We saw increased spending, recovery in markets in North Africa and Europe previously impacted by terrorism and continued outbound growth from China and India.”
However, she said: “The data suggests the US is not getting its fair share as other countries are increasing their tourism at a faster rate.”
Guevara said: “The US has a strong foundation with the private sector working well with government. Its Visa Waiver [programme] is being replicated in other countries, and the US Global Entry scheme is one of the best in the world.
“The government is ideally placed to tap into this opportunity by promoting the country so that visitors know the US is open and welcoming.”
The WTTC reported “signs of strong recovery” in some major destination countries hit by terrorism or political unrest.
It suggested Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey “are well on track to return to pre-crisis levels as major source markets such as the UK return to the region”.
Travel and tourism growth in North Africa was almost 23% in 2017, more than three times that of any other region, with Egypt – where tourism contributed 11% of GDP – driving the recovery
In Turkey, tourism’s contribution to GDP grew by 17%.
Guevara said: “This positive performance in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey is encouraging [and] highlights how important it is that we find the balance between safe, secure and seamless travel.
“I encourage the governments of these countries to continue their engagement with the private sector in pursuit of sustainable growth.”
The WTTC reported Europe performed “better than expected” with 4.8% growth “as long-haul demand recovered strongly, accompanied by strong intra-regional travel”.
Travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP in North Africa grew by 22.6% year on year, with the WTTC hailing a “stellar performance” from Egypt which saw 73% growth and “solid growth” in Tunisia of 7.6%.
The WTTC study, produced with Oxford Economics, showed travel and tourism growth of 7.4% in North-East Asia and 6.7% in South-East Asia.
However, Latin America saw a decline of 1.4% in tourism GDP, largely due to an 18% contraction in Brazil.
The WTTC forecast somewhat slower growth in 2018 and annual growth of 3.8% a year over the next decade with the sector expected to contribute 25% of all new jobs over the 10 years.
Guevara said: “Our key challenge will be ensuring this growth is sustainable and inclusive. We need to ensure growth is planned for, well managed and includes communities.”
Travel and tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact in 2017 accounted for:
• $8.3 trillion contribution to global GDP (10.4%)
• 313 million jobs, one in ten jobs around the world
• $1.5 trillion exports (6.5% of total exports, 28.8% of global services exports)
• $882 billion investment (4.5% of total investment)
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