The travel and tourism industry generated one in 10 of the world’s jobs and accounted for more than 10% of global GDP in 2016.
These are the key findings of a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which analysed the industry’s impact in 185 countries.
Conducted in conjunction with Oxford Economics, the WTTC’s Economic Impact Report 2017 found that the value of travel and tourism grew 3.3% to US$7.6 trillion worldwide last year, which translates to 10.2% of global GDP when the direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account.
The sector supported a total of 292 million jobs in 2016, or 10% of global employment.
Additionally, global visitor exports, or the amount of money spent by foreign visitors, accounted for 6.6% of total world exports and almost 30% of total world services exports.
“This is the sixth year in a row that travel and tourism has outpaced the global economy, showing the sector’s resilience, and the eagerness of people to continue to travel and discover new places, despite economic and political challenges across the world,” said David Scowsill, president & CEO of the WTTC. “The continuous growth of our sector underlines the significance of business and leisure travel in driving economic development and job creation throughout the world.”
Southeast Asia (8.3%) was the region with the fastest-growing travel and tourism sector in 2016, driven by the expanding Chinese outbound market and the countries own growing markets. Latin America (0.2%) was the slowest-growing region, mainly due to the impact of the Brazilian economic slump.
The other regions registered the following growth: South Asia (7.9%), Northeast Asia (4.6%), Oceania (4.4%), the Caribbean (3.2%), North America (3.1%), the Middle East (2.7%), sub-Saharan Africa (2.4%) and Europe (1.6%).
Travel and tourism is expected to grow by 3.8% in 2017, generating US$7.9trn. This growth is slower than previously forecast, as a result of a downgrade to the global economy and a dampening of consumer spending.
Over the next decade the sector is forecast to grow at an average of 3.9% per year, and by 2027 it will generate more than 11% of the world’s GDP and employ a total of 380m people, the WTTC predicts. One quarter of all jobs created in the next decade will be supported by travel and tourism.
“The future prospects for travel and tourism are good, but the sector continues to face challenges. The impact of terrorism and the rise of populism pose a severe risk to the ability of people to travel efficiently and securely. The sector itself needs urgently to address the impact of growth on destinations and its own contribution to climate change if it is to be sustainable in the long term,” Scowsill added.