Growth in the travel and tourism industry outpaced the global economy for the sixth consecutive year in 2016, according to WTTC.
The industry grew 3.3 per cent, generating US$7.6 trillion worldwide, or 10.2 per cent of global GDP (taking into account direct, indirect and induced impacts). The sector also supported a total of 292 million jobs in 2016, one in 10 of all jobs in the world.
Additionally, money spent by foreign visitors accounted for 6.6 per cent of total world exports, and almost 30 per cent of total world services exports.
South-east Asia saw the highest growth (8.3 per cent), driven by the expanding Chinese outbound market and the region's own growing markets.
In second place was South Asia (7.9 per cent), followed by North-east Asia (4.6 per cent), Oceania (4.4 per cent), the Caribbean (3.2 per cent), North America (3.1 per cent), the Middle East (2.7 per cent), Sub-Saharan Africa (2.4 per cent) and Europe (1.6 per cent).
Latin America (0.2 per cent) was the slowest growing region, which WTTC attributed to the Brazilian economy, which “dragged down the whole region”.
In 2017, WTTC expects the industry to generate US$7.9 trillion, a 3.8 per cent growth. This is slower than previously forecasted “as a result of a downgrade to the global economy and a dampening of consumer spending”.
Over the next decade, the sector is forecast to grow at an average of 3.9 per cent per year. By 2027 it will generate more than 11 per cent of the world’s GDP and employ a total of 380 million people. One quarter of all jobs created in the next decade will be supported by travel and tourism, according to WTTC projections.
However, David Scowsill, president & CEO, WTTC, reminded: “The future prospects for travel and tourism are good, but the sector continues to face challenges. The impact of terrorism and the rise of populism pose a severe risk to the ability of people to travel efficiently and securely.
“The sector needs urgently to address the impact of growth on destinations and its own contribution to climate change if it is to be sustainable in the long term.”