The future of the travel industry looks promising, with projections
by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) indicating that it will
evolve into a robust US$15.5 trillion powerhouse by the year 2033.
This forecasted growth would mean that travel will account for more
than 11.6% of the entire global economy, marking a significant leap from
its valuation of US$10 trillion in 2019, when it contributed 10.4% to
the global gross domestic product (GDP).
Released as part of the 2023 World Economic Impact Report on travel,
the data provides a glimpse into the future landscape of global tourism.
Delving into the economic contributions of key tourism markets
worldwide, the report underlines the top five dominant players in terms
of GDP contribution: the United States, China, Germany, the United
Kingdom, and Japan. Notably, Japan has overtaken the UK in the most
recent list. Meanwhile, France, Mexico, Italy, India, and Spain complete
the top 10.
Beyond monetary influence, the report also sheds light on the
industry's impact on the labour market. It is anticipated that by 2033,
the travel sector will employ a staggering 430 million individuals, a
substantial increase from the 334 million in 2019. This projection
implies that approximately one in every nine jobs globally will be
linked to the travel and tourism industry.
What sets the trajectory of travel apart is not only its significant
slice of the global economic pie but also its rate of growth outpacing
the larger economy. According to Julia Simpson, president, and CEO of
WTTC, while global GDP is predicted to grow by about 2.6% annually, the
travel and tourism sector is anticipated to experience a much more rapid
growth rate of approximately 5.1%.
Furthermore, the WTTC's outlook projects a significant shift in the
global travel landscape. Over the next decade, China is expected to
dethrone the United States as the world's leading travel economy.
Forecasts suggest that by 2033, China's travel sector will contribute
US$4 trillion to its economy, comprising 14.1% of its GDP. In
comparison, the United States' travel industry is estimated to reach
US$3 trillion, representing 10.1% of its GDP.
Notably, China's ascendancy to the top spot was anticipated prior to
the Covid-19 pandemic. Chinese travellers were commanding an impressive
14.3% share of global outbound travel spending. However, the pandemic
and related factors such as border closures and visa processing delays
have dampened this dominance. Yet, the rest of the world's recovery has
compensated for China's absence, particularly in Latin America, North
America, and Europe. The WTTC's report suggests that the industry is
well on its way to regaining 2019 levels by the close of this year.
The expected return of Chinese travellers to the international stage
by 2024 is anticipated to usher in another wave of growth for global
tourism. By 2033, the Chinese share of global outbound travel spending
is projected to reach 22.3%.
Even amid economic uncertainties, the desire to travel remains
strong. A separate report on global trends from the WTTC, released on
August 15th, highlighted that people continue to prioritise spending on
travel, showcasing a keen interest in exploring new horizons.