Policy-makers urged to get smarter to reap travel industry’s benefits

From airline pilots to waiters, travel and tourism employs 99 million people

WHILE economic growth going forward faces many challenges, the travel and tourism industry is still expected to be one of the world’s fastest growing sectors, according to Economic Impact Research for 2011 to 2021 recently released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which reveals the power of the industry to boost economic growth and employment.

“Travel & Tourism creates jobs, generates exports and stimulates investment. At a time of post-crisis global recovery, the industry is in a unique position to power sustainable growth around the globe, whether in mature economies emerging from recession or young emerging markets in the throes of rapid development. But it must have the clear support of governments and policy-makers if that potential is to be realised,” said WTTC president and CEO, David Scowsill.

Sustaining last year’s recovery, travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP is bouncing back and set to grow by 4.5 per cent in 2011, creating around three million new jobs this year. Worldwide it will be worth $1.8 trillion, directly employing just over 99 million people. When the wider impacts of the industry are taken into account the figures rise to a total value of $6 trillion (9.1 per cent of GDP) and 258 million jobs (8.8 per cent of total employment).

“Over the next ten years, travel and tourism’s total contribution to GDP is forecast to rise by 4.2 per cent per year to $9.2 trillion, bringing with it 65 million new jobs. By 2021, one in 10 workers on the planet will be employed as a result of travel and tourism,” continued Scowsill.

This growth will be largely driven by rising living standards and new consumers - mainly from countries such as China and India - entering the market, boosting international travel and generating increasingly vibrant domestic tourism sectors.

Foreign travellers’ spending will continue to be vital to many nations’ economic fortunes. These visitor exports are expected to grow by 6.6 per cent per year, reaching $1.8 trillion in 2021. Industry investment - currently estimated at $652 billion - is forecast to double in real terms over the next decade to reach $1.5 trillion, with particularly rapid growth in emerging and developing economies.

However, economic challenges such as fiscal austerity and rising commodity prices mean that governments will need smarter policies to support the industry as it grows and must seize its potential to create jobs, increase exports and stimulate investment.

Geoffrey Kent, chairman of WTTC and founder and executive chairman of leading luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, said: “WTTC’s annual research proves that the direct contribution of travel and tourism is only a fraction of the industry’s true worth. The research can help governments and business better understand the true power and potential of this industry to boost GDP, employment and exports, helping to drive economic growth. For that growth to be sustainable governments must work together with the industry towards smarter policies and legislation that will help travel and tourism to thrive.”

To realise sustainable growth, WTTC is calling for policies that:

minimise barriers to travel with efficient and transparent visa processes, taxation reflecting the export value of the industry and rationalised and uniform security measures

facilitate investment to maintain and expand capacity in a sustainable way and also underpin improvements in quality, competitiveness and productivity

support the human capital needs of the industry through appropriate skills development and employment legislation.

Undertaken in partnership with Oxford Economics, the world research report is one of a series for 181 countries and 20 country ‘groupings’. Each also charts the value of business versus leisure and domestic versus international travel.
All the reports are available free online at