WTTC tips 2024 as all-time high travel & tourism spend

Global tourism body projects US$11.1 trillion spend this year

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has projected 2024 will be a record-breaking year for Travel & Tourism, with the sector’s global economic contribution set to reach an all-time high of US$11.1 trillion.

According to the global tourism body’s 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR), Travel & Tourism will contribute an additional US$770 billion over its previous record, stamping its authority as a global economic powerhouse, generating one in every 10 dollars worldwide.

As the global sector soars past its pre-pandemic prosperity, WTTC expects 142 countries of 185 analysed will be outperforming previous national records.

In partnership with Oxford Economic, WTTC’s latest EIR showcases a sector brimming with opportunities, underpinning almost 348 million jobs globally. This represents an increase of more than 13.6 million jobs compared to its highest point in 2019.

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International visitor spending is expected to come within touching distance of the 2019 peak, to reach US$1.89 trillion, while domestic tourists are forecast to spend more than in any year on record to hit US$5.4 trillion.

A look back on last year

Despite economic uncertainties and geopolitical shake-ups, the Travel & Tourism sector is thriving. With an economic injection of nearly US$10 trillion, the sector matched its pre-pandemic zenith, flexing its resilience and proving its critical role in the global economy.

Representing 9.1% of global GDP at just over SU$9.9 trillion in 2023, Travel & Tourism’s financial footprint was the largest it’s been since the golden year of travel in 2019, trailing its peak by a mere 4%.

The sector also bolstered its workforce by an additional 27.4 million, propelling the total to nearly 330million jobs worldwide.

International spending increased by 33.1% to reach US$1.63 trillion, underscoring a vibrant comeback story for many countries around the world, with domestic spending increasing by more than 18% to reach almost US$5 trillion.

2023 set the stage, demonstrating the unwavering passion for travel, paving the way for a record-breaking year in 2024.

This growth comes despite two of the world’s biggest tourism markets lagging in terms of international visitor spend, with both the US and China seeing a far slower return of international tourist spend.

Last year in the US, international visitor spending remained more than a quarter below the peak of 2019, while China’s visitor spend remained almost 60% down.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Against the backdrop of uncertainty, the Travel & Tourism sector remains a global economic powerhouse.

“This isn’t just about breaking records, we’re no longer talking about a recovery – this is a story of the sector back at its best after a difficult few years, providing a significant economic boost to countries around the world and supporting millions of jobs.

“There’s a risk however, we need the US and Chinese governments to support their national Travel & Tourism sectors. The US and China will continue to suffer whilst other countries are seeing international visitors return much faster.”

Travel & Tourism 10 years from now

Looking ahead, WTTC is forecasting a promising future for the next decade, characterised by robust growth and unparalleled career opportunities.

By 2034, the sector will supercharge the global economy with a staggering US$16 trillion, making up 11.4% of the entire economic landscape.

This booming industry is also set to be a job creation juggernaut, providing employment for 449 million people worldwide. Nearly 12.2% of the workforce will be powering this sector, showcasing Travel & Tourism’s pivotal role in global employment.

With more than three-quarters of the countries analysed expected to exceed the high point of 2019, in terms of GDP contribution, Travel & Tourism is on the brink of its most transformative era yet, promising prosperity, innovation, and connection on a scale yet to see.

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