While economic growth faces many challenges, the travel and tourism industry is still expected to be one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, according to new Economic Impact Research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The research – which examines the likely trends in the sector between for 2011 and 2021 - reveals the power of tourism to boost economic growth and employment.
“Travel and tourism creates jobs, generates exports and stimulates investment,” said says WTTC president David Scowsill.
“At a time of post-crisis global recovery, the industry is in a unique position to power sustainable growth around the globe, whether in mature economies emerging from recession or young emerging markets in the throes of rapid development.
“But it must have the clear support of governments and policy-makers if that potential is to be realised.”
Sustaining last year’s recovery, tourism’s contribution to GDP is bouncing back and is set to grow by 4.5 per cent in 2011, creating around three million new jobs this year.
Worldwide it will be worth US$1.8 trillion, directly employing just over 99 million people. When the wider impacts of the industry are taken into account the figures rise to a total value of US$6 trillion (9.1 per cent of GDP) and 258 million jobs (8.8 per cent of total employment).
“Over the next ten years, tourism’s total contribution to GDP is forecast to rise by 4.2 per cent pa to US$9.2 trillion, bringing with it 65 million new jobs.
“By 2021, one in ten workers on the planet will be employed as a result of the sector,” continued Scowsill.
China is set to play a key roll in global tourism over the coming decade
This growth will be largely driven by rising living standards and new consumers – mainly from countries such as China and India – entering the market, boosting international travel and generating increasingly vibrant domestic tourism sectors.
Foreign travellers’ spending will continue to be vital to many nations’ economic fortunes. These visitor exports are expected to grow by 6.6 per cent per annum, reaching US$1.8 trillion in 2021.
Industry investment – currently estimated at US$652 billion – is forecast to double in real terms over the next decade to reach US$1.5 trillion, with particularly rapid growth in emerging and developing economies.
However, economic challenges such as fiscal austerity and rising commodity prices mean that governments will need smarter policies to support the industry as it grows and seize its potential to create jobs, increase exports and stimulate investment.
Geoffrey Kent, chairman of WTTC and founder of leading luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, commented: “WTTC’s annual research proves the direct contribution of travel and tourism is only a fraction of the industry’s true worth.
“The research can help governments and business better understand the true power and potential of this industry to boost GDP, employment and exports, helping to drive economic growth.
“For that growth to be sustainable governments must work together with the industry towards smarter policies and legislation that will help the industry to thrive.”
Governments around the world are urged to implement policies to facilitate tourism
To realise sustainable growth, WTTC is calling for policies that minimise barriers to travel; including efficient and transparent visa processes, taxation reflecting the export value of the industry, and rationalised and uniform security measures.
Governments are also encouraged to facilitate investment to maintain and expand capacity in a sustainable way, and also underpin improvements in quality, competitiveness and productivity.
Finally, support must be offered to the human capital needs of the industry through appropriate skills development and employment legislation.
Undertaken in partnership with Oxford Economics, the world research report is one of a series for 181 countries and 20 country ‘groupings’.
Each also charts the value of business versus leisure, and domestic versus international travel.
All the reports are available free online here.