The global travel and tourism industry plays a pivotal role in driving economic growth and fostering employment opportunities across nations.
Spanning transportation, accommodation, dining, entertainment, and more, this multifaceted sector serves as a cornerstone of many economies.
Employing millions directly and indirectly, the industry embraces a diverse workforce, from hoteliers and tour guides to airline personnel and local drivers. Its significance extends beyond job creation, as it injects vital foreign exchange earnings into host countries.
International tourists, in their exploration of destinations, stimulate local economies through expenditures on lodging, dining, transportation, and various services.
International tourists spend money on accommodation, dining, shopping, transportation, and other services in the destinations they visit, which helps boost the local economy and contributes to the country’s balance of payments.
For many countries, especially small island nations or those heavily dependent on a few industries, tourism offers a means of diversifying their economies.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a global tourism body, has forecast a record-breaking year for travel and tourism in 2024, with the sector’s global economic contribution set to reach an all-time high of $11.1tn.
WTTC’s 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) estimates the sector will contribute an additional $770bn more than its previous record – generating one in every 10 dollars worldwide.
It expects some 142 countries of 185 analysed will be outperforming previous national records.
The report, produced with Oxford Economics, says the travel and tourism sector accounts for almost 348mn jobs globally.
This represents an increase of more than 13.6mn jobs compared to its highest point in 2019.
International visitor spending is expected to be close to the 2019 peak at $1.89tn, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend more than in any year on record to hit $5.4tn.
The WTTC said international visitor spending in the US last year remained more than a quarter below the peak of 2019, while China’s visitor spend remained almost 60% down.
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 $16tn, making up 11.4% of the entire economic landscape.
WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “Against the backdrop of uncertainty, the travel and tourism sector remains a global economic powerhouse.
“This isn’t just about breaking records; we’re no longer talker about a recovery – this is a story of the sector back at its best after a difficult few years, providing a significant economic boost to countries around the world and supporting millions of jobs.
“There’s a risk however, we need the US and Chinese governments to support their national travel and tourism sectors. The US and China will continue to suffer whilst other countries are seeing international visitors return much faster.”
Beyond its economic significance, travel and tourism catalyse development in regions facing economic challenges.
By incentivising investments in infrastructure like airports, roads, and hospitality establishments, the industry nurtures a conducive environment for business growth, thereby fostering overall economic expansion around the world.
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