Paris is the world’s most powerful city destination, according to recent data from World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analyzed key indicators such as Travel & Tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and traveller spend.
Covid-19 had a severe impact on Travel & Tourism and in particular major cities around the world as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic. As borders reopened, many leisure travelers swapped city visits for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural destinations, but latest research from WTTC shows that city holidays are back and growing in popularity.
Paris takes the crown as the world’s most powerful city destination with a Travel & Tourism sector worth almost $36BN USD in 2022, in terms of direct GDP contribution to the city. Over the next 10 years, WTTC predicts it will drop down to third place, although its value will rise to over $49BN.
Major cities such as London, Paris and New York will remain global powerhouses.Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO
France is also set to cement itself as the most visited country in the world, according to GlobalData, which estimates that the country will attract 93.7 million international travelers by 2025. The analytics company specified that the forecast would place the country ahead of competitor, Spain, which overtook France in 2021.
According GlobalData’s ‘Tourism Destination Market Insight: Western Europe (2022)’, France held the title of most visited country in the world prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, welcoming 88.1 million visitors in 2019. It was, however, overtaken by Spain in 2021.
Having attracted 66.6 million international visitors in 2022, France is now set to re-claim the title, with the number of international arrivals expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% between 2022 and 2025.
Alongside Italy and Spain, France represents a significant segment of the growth in Western Europe, GlobalData reports. The country is not only popular with travelers from Europe itself—especially the UK, Germany and Belgium—but it is also popular with visitors from further afield, including China and the United States.
Beijing is currently the second biggest city destination in the world with a Travel & Tourism sector worth nearly $33BN. However, WTTC predicts it will leapfrog Paris within the next 10 years, growing to a staggering $77BN. “Tourists will always have favorite cities that they will return to, but as other countries prioritize Travel & Tourism, we are going to see new and emerging destinations challenging the traditional favorites,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.
Often dubbed the theme park capital of the world, Orlando’s Travel & Tourism sector was valued at $31BN in 2022, but despite predictions suggesting it will grow by almost 50% to $45BN by 2032, it will drop down to become the fourth biggest city destination.
China’s national Travel & Tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations.
Over the next few years, Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau will be moving up the list of top city destinations.Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO
This investment in Travel & Tourism sees Shanghai’s sector, worth nearly $30BN last year, predicted to more than double to almost $71BN by 2032, to become the world’s second most powerful city destination.
Las Vegas is the only city in the top 10 list which holds its place, firmly staying as the 5th largest city destination. Last year, Las Vegas’s Travel & Tourism sector was worth nearly $23BN and is predicted to grow to over $36BN by 2032.
Other cities outside the top 10 showing promising growth as emerging destinations include the Polish capital of Warsaw which has seen a 14.4% increase in its GDP contribution in 2022 versus 2019.
Sanya, the Chinese coastal city which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years as holidaymakers visited its stunning beaches witnessed a 10.2% growth during that same period. Its Travel & Tourism sector represents an incredible 43.6% of the city’s total economy. Macau’s Travel & Tourism sector represents 40.4% of the city’s total economy.
Orlando and Las Vegas are the only cities currently in the top 10 most powerful city destinations based on the sector’s value, which rely heavily on the sector as a share of the city’s overall economy.
Travel & Tourism represents 20.4% of Orlando’s economy and 16.3% of Las Vegas’s economy. In comparison, Paris’s Travel & Tourism sector represents just 3.5% of the capital’s economy in 2022. The top ten cities with biggest international travelers spend in 2022 were:
- Dubai – $29.42BN
- Doha – $16.79BN
- London – $16.07BN
- Macau – $15.58BN
- Amsterdam – $13.59BN
- Istanbul – $13.13BN
- Barcelona – $12.73BN
- New York – $12.45BN
- Singapore – $10.97BN
- Paris – $9.76BN
In 2032, WTTC predicts the top five cities with biggest international traveler spend will change to be:
- Hong Kong – $52.06BN (up 38 places from 2022)
- Macau – $43.14BN (up two places from 2022)
- Dubai – $42.98BN (down two places from 2022)
- Singapore – $37.43BN (up five places from 2022)
- Bangkok – $33.45BN (up seven places from 2022)
- Doha – $31.63BN (down four places from 2022)
- Tokyo $25.44BN (up 30 places from 2022)
- New York $21.73BN (no change from 2022)
- Amsterdam $21.53BN (down four places from 2022)
- Shanghai – $21.3BN (up 11 places from 2022)
Over the next decade, Travel & Tourism is on track to become a key driver of economic growth with faster GDP growth than other sectors. It is expected to generate 126 million new jobs around the world.