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WTTC: Global Travel & Tourism Catapults into 2023

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) recently shows the travel and tourism sector is closing in on its 2019 peak, recovering by more than 95 percent.

This year, the sector is forecast to reach USD9.5 trillion, just five percent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels when travel was at its highest. 34 countries have already exceeded 2019 levels.

According to the research conducted by WTTC in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the global tourism body also forecasts that the sector will recover to 95 percent of the 2019 job level.

In 2022, despite the economic and geopolitical difficulties, the travel and tourism sector’s recovery continued at pace, growing 22 percent year-on-year to reach USD7.7 trillion.

This recovery represented 7.6 percent of the global economy in 2022, the highest sector contribution since 2019, although its global GDP is still 22.9 percent behind its 2019 peak.

In 2021 the global sector grew 24.7 percent year-on-year, and last year it grew a further 22 percent to reach a GDP contribution of USD7.7 trillion.

The research shows that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and prolonged travel restrictions imposed by a number of countries such as China had a significant impact on the global recovery.

But the recent decision by the Chinese government to reopen its borders from January will propel the sector and see it recover to pre-pandemic levels next year.

From a pre-pandemic high of more than 334 million, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged employment in the sector which saw losses of more than 70 million to bring the total number employed in 2020 to just 264 million.

Following the recovery of 11 million jobs in 2021, the sector created 21.6 million new jobs in 2022 to reach more than 295 million globally – one in 11 jobs worldwide.

Spending from overseas visitors grew by a record 82 percent to reach USD1.1 trillion in 2022, showing that international travel is firmly back on track.

The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to USD15.5 trillion by 2033 representing 11.6 percent of the global economy and will employ 430 million people around the world, with almost 12 percent of the working population employed in the sector.

The latest EIR also reveals that 34 of the 185 countries analysed in the EIR have now recovered to pre-pandemic levels in terms of GDP contribution.

WTTC forecasts that by the end of this year, nearly half of the 185 countries will have either fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels or be within 95 percent of full recovery.