Urban destinations are not only back, but they will drive the next
decade of travel recovery, according to new data from the World Travel
& Tourism Council (WTTC).
WTTC's Cities Economic Impact Report, released Wednesday at its
Global Summit, analysed 82 city destinations and found that prior to the
pandemic, major cities accounted for almost half of all international
visits. After a major decline in urban tourism during the early part of
the pandemic, its contribution to GDP is expected to grow faster than
other sectors by 2032, the report found.
The study, sponsored by Visa, shows that city tourism's direct
contribution to GDP will grow to US$1.1 trillion in 2023 in 82 cities
combined, up from US$582 billion this year.
Both leisure and business travellers are flocking back to cities,
WTTC found, with 10 of the 82 cities projected to exceed pre-pandemic
levels in terms of direct travel and tourism GDP contribution this year
alone. Of those cities, Qatar's capital of Doha will see the largest
increase, 21%, from 2019 to 2022 due to the World Cup soccer
Europe, Warsaw is expected to see a 14% jump in 2022 versus 2019. In
the US, Orlando leads the way with a projected 10% increase. Direct
travel employment is expected to return to 2019 levels in 11 cities,
including Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Chicago.
Between 2022 and 2032, the strongest growth in direct travel GDP is
expected to be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region with Hong Kong
(15%), Bangkok (13.1%) and Jakarta (12.8%) being the top performers.
Saudi Arabian cities Riyadh and Jeddah are also expected to see strong
WTTC CEO Julia Simpson said it's a major turnaround from the
pandemic's start when everyone "yearned for the great outdoors" and
leisure travellers sought out less-populated destinations such as
coastal and rural areas, battering urban economies and forcing thousands
of hotels, restaurants, and attractions in cities around the world to
"Cities have been slower to come back," she said. "But now they go
for the culture and architecture and entertainment and shopping. They go
for all the reasons that have always attracted people."
Jeni Mundy, Visa's global head of merchant sales and acquiring, said
that factors such as the strong dollar are pushing travel to cities
outside the US: "It's a great time to be an American in Europe," she
She also pointed to a surge in cities that served as filming sets to
popular shows and movies such as the city of Bath, England, which
outperformed most of the country after getting a bump from the hit
Netflix show "Bridgerton," which was shot there and where fans can take
presents a new route to boosting travel demand," Mundy said. "People
binged during the pandemic and started thinking of where to go."
ForwardKeys similarly revealed in new data that sun-and-beach
destinations have proven to be the most resilient throughout the
pandemic, reaching 70% of 2019 levels in 2022, urban trips are catching
up. By December, the two sectors will be nearly level as demand for
sun-and-beach holidays slows during the Northern Hemisphere's winter
months. Cities driving the trend include Istanbul (96% of 2019 levels),
Madrid (78%), Oslo (75%) and Dublin (71%).
Source: Travel Weekly