The future of the travel industry appears exceptionally bright, with forecasts from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) painting a picture of a robust $15.5 trillion global travel sector by 2033. This astonishing figure represents a staggering 50% increase from its 2019 valuation of $10 trillion, when travel represented 10.4% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The revelations were unveiled as part of the 2023 World Economic Impact Report on travel, offering a glimpse into the forthcoming landscape of global tourism. This report not only quantifies the monetary contributions of key tourism markets but also underscores the sector’s profound impact on employment.
The United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan emerge as the top five players in terms of GDP contribution. A noteworthy shift is observed, with Japan surpassing the UK in this latest ranking. Completing the top ten are France, Mexico, Italy, India, and Spain, showcasing the international diversity within the industry.
Beyond monetary gains, the WTTC’s report illuminates the travel and tourism industry’s impact on the labor market. By 2033, it is expected to provide gainful employment for a 430 million individuals, a significant rise from the 334 million employed in 2019, which translates to a future where approximately one in every nine jobs globally will be linked to the travel and tourism sector. While the GDP is projected to grow at around 2.6% annually, the travel and tourism sector is anticipated to experience a growth rate of approximately 5.1%.
Over the next 10 years, the US travel economy, which is the largest in the world in terms of its annual $2 trillion in total economic output, will lose its crown to China.Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC.
The WTTC report highlights how the global travel landscape is bound to change over the next decade. China is poised to ascend as the world’s leading travel economy, overtaking the United States. With numbers that include not only the spending of international visitors within each country, but also of nationals traveling abroad, forecasts suggest that by 2033, China’s travel sector will contribute a colossal $4 trillion to its economy, accounting for 14.1% of its GDP, while the United States’ travel industry is estimated to reach $3 trillion, representing 10.1% of its GDP.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, China’s rise to the top was already anticipated since Chinese travelers had already established themselves as major players, constituting a 14.3% share of the global outbound travel spending. With the pandemic-related disruptions, such as border closures and visa processing delays, China temporarily subdued this dominance. Now, the industry is on track to go back to 2019 levels, particularly in regions such as Latin America, North America, and Europe. By 2033, the Chinese share of global outbound travel spending is projected to reach a substantial 22.3%.