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Tourism industry is expected to be worth $15.5 trillion by 2033.

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Vacationers packing airports worldwide this summer are a sign of tourism’s future.

Travel is expected to be worth $15.5 trillion by 2033, accounting for 11.6% of the world economy. This is a 50% rise from its $10 trillion worth in 2019, when travel made up 10.4% of global GDP.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the primary advocacy body for assessing the industry’s economic effect, provided the 10-year prediction. The data was provided in May as part of a 2023 World Economic Impact study on travel, but only a few industry leaders have seen it.

The research ranks the top five travel and tourism economies by GDP contribution as of 2022. These stayed the same as pre-2019: US, China, Germany, UK, and Japan, with Japan surpassing the UK. France, Mexico, Italy, India, and Spain completed the top 10.

The study also contains travel and tourism labor market figures: By 2033, the sector will employ 430 million people, up from 334 million in 2019. That represents 1 in 9 worldwide employment.

Travel accounts for a substantial portion of the global economy and is rising faster than the economy overall.

Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told Bloomberg from her New York office that economists predict a 2.6% yearly growth in global GDP. We estimate 5.1% yearly increase in travel and tourism.

Simpson adds that the WTTC predicts that China will overtake the US travel business, which generates $2 trillion in yearly economic production, in 10 years.

In 2033, China’s tourism industry will contribute $4 trillion and 14.1% of the GDP. However, US industry is expected to surpass $3 trillion and make up 10.1% of the GDP. (These data include foreign visitors’ in-country spending and each country’s nationals’ trip abroad spending.)

Chinese travelers accounted for 14.3% of worldwide outbound travel expenditure before the epidemic, but border restrictions that only ended in January 2023 and passport and visa processing delays have slowed their return. The rest of the world compensated. The WTTC study says Latin America, North America, and Europe have powered a robust rebound, and the sector expects to be virtually back to 2019 levels by the end of the year.

Once Chinese tourists return in full force by 2024, worldwide tourism will expand again, with the Chinese share of global outbound travel expenditure estimated to reach 22.3% by 2033.

Simpson said consumers “really, really want to travel and they are prioritising their spending on travel,” citing WTTC data from a second nonpublic research on worldwide trends issued on Aug. 15.

Even the short-term travel outlook is positive. On Aug. 16, Virtuoso, a network of over 20,000 luxury travel consultants, announced a 69% increase in first-half 2023 sales compared to 2019. With more consumers booking vacations farther out, the firm is already experiencing a 107% rise in revenues for 2024 and early 2025 compared to 2019 and early 2020.

Virtuoso data shows a rise in nature-based travel, including Antarctica and Galapagos study missions. Simpson of the WTTC agrees, saying she’s seen a return to cities and a rise in interest in Bulgaria and Slovenia. “Travelers are more daring. Really want to explore new places.”

These adjustments and governmental impediments have pushed the US major industry behind its rivals. But stateside employment are rising. According to an unreleased WTTC estimate on America’s travel industry, 21 million people will work in travel and tourism by 2033, up from 17.5 million in 2019.

Source : Bloomberg

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