Global travel and tourism sector to hit $9.5tn in 2023: WTTC
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Global travel and tourism sector to reach $9.5tn in 2023: WTTC

Global travel and tourism sector to reach $9.5tn in 2023: WTTC

The global tourism body also forecasts that the sector will recover to 95 per cent of the 2019 job level

Neesha Salian

The global travel and tourism sector is closing in on its 2019 peak, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR).

In 2023, the sector is forecast to reach $9.5tn just 5 per cent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels when travel was at its highest.

The latest EIR revealed that 34 of the 185 countries analysed have now recovered to pre-pandemic levels in terms of GDP contribution.

WTTC forecast that by the end of 2023, nearly half of the 185 countries will have either fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels or be within 95 per cent of full recovery

According to the research conducted by WTTC in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the global tourism body also forecasts that the sector will recover to 95 per cent of the 2019 job level.

Highlights of the travel and tourism sector

Last year, despite the economic and geopolitical difficulties, the travel and tourism sector’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.

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.

The research shows that the ongoing crisis 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 in January will propel the sector and see it recover to pre-pandemic levels next year.

From a pre-pandemic high of more than 334 million, the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged employment in the sector which saw losses of more than 70 million to bring the total number employed in 2020 to just 264m.

Following the recovery of 11 million jobs in 2021, the sector created 21.6 million new jobs in 2022 to reach more than 295 million globally – one in 11 jobs worldwide.

Spending from overseas visitors grew by a record 82 per cent to reach $1.1tn in 2022.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “The travel and tourism sector continues to recover at pace, demonstrating the resilience of the sector and the enduring desire to travel.

“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.

“The recovery will speed up this year as Chinese travellers re-enter the market and over the next 10 years, travel and tourism will continue to grow as a sector.”

Ten-year forecast

The global tourism body 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 430 million people around the world, with almost 12 per cent of the working population employed in the sector.

Read: This is how tourism must shift to actually address climate change

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