Travel TrendsGlobal travel's value is set to surge to US$15.5 trillion by 2033, comprising 11.6% of the global economy, up from US$10 trillion in 2019.

The future of travel is worth $15.5 trillion

The top five dominant players in terms of GDP contribution: the United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
The top five dominant players in terms of GDP contribution: the United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Luciano Mortula-LGM

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.

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