$11 tn GDP contribution of tourism in 2024

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is projecting 2024 as a record-breaking year for travel and tourism, with the sector’s global economic contribution set to reach an all-time high of $11.1 trillion (tn). International visitor spending is expected to come within touching distance of the 2019 peak, to reach $1.89 tn, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend a new high of $5.4 tn.

TT Bureau

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) 2024 Economic Impact Research, Travel & Tourism will contribute an additional $770 billon (bn) over its previous record, stamping its authority as a global economic powerhouse, generating one in every US $10 worldwide. As the global sector soars past its pre-pandemic prosperity, WTTC expects 142 countries of 185 analysed will be outperforming previous national records.

The latest EIR of WTTC, conducted in partnership with Oxford Economic, showcases Travel and Tourism as a sector brimming with opportunities, underpinning almost 348 million (mn) jobs globally. This represents an increase of more than 13.6 mn jobs compared to its highest point in 2019. International visitor spending is expected to come within touching distance of the 2019 peak, to reach $1.89 tn, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend more than in any year on record to hit $5.4 tn.

A look back on last year

Despite economic uncertainties and geopolitical shake-ups, the Travel & Tourism sector is thriving. With an economic injection of nearly $10 tn, the sector matched its pre-pandemic zenith, flexing its resilience and proving its critical role in the global economy. Representing 9.1 per cent of global GDP at just over $9.9 tn in 2023, Travel & Tourism’s financial footprint was the largest it has been since the golden year of travel in 2019, trailing its peak by a mere 4 per cent. The sector also bolstered its workforce by an additional 27.4 mn, propelling the total to nearly 330 mn jobs worldwide. International spending increased by 33.1 per cent to reach $1.63 tn, underscoring a vibrant comeback story for many countries around the world, with domestic spending increasing by more than 18 per cent to reach almost $5 tn. The growth comes despite two of the world’s biggest tourism markets lagging in terms of international visitor spending, with both the USA and China seeing a far slower return of international tourist spending. Last year in the USA, international visitor spending remained more than a quarter below the peak of 2019, while China’s visitor spending remained almost 60 per cent down.

Julia Simpson, President & CEO, WTTC, said: “Against the backdrop of uncertainty, the Travel & Tourism sector remains a global economic powerhouse. This is not just about breaking records, we are no longer talker 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 is a risk however, we need the US and Chinese governments to support their national Travel & Tourism sectors. The US and China will continue to suffer while other nations see visitors’ return much faster.”

Tourism 10 years from now

Looking ahead, WTTC is forecasting a promising future for the next decade. By 2034, the sector will supercharge the global economy with a staggering $16 tn, making up 11.4 per cent of the entire economic landscape. This booming industry is also set to be a job creation juggernaut, providing employment for 449 mn people worldwide. Nearly 12.2 per cent of the workforce will be powering this vibrant sector. With more than three quarters of the countries analysed expected to exceed the high point of 2019, in terms of GDP contribution, Travel & Tourism is on the brink of its most transformative era yet.

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