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World Travel Set for Explosive Growth, Expected to Reach $15.5 Trillion by 2033

by Rahil M
0 comment

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a prominent advocate for quantifying the economic impact of the industry, has revealed a forecast that paints a vibrant picture of the future of travel.

The bustling scenes at airports around the world this summer provide a clear indication of what lies ahead for the tourism sector. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a prominent advocate for quantifying the economic impact of the industry, has revealed a forecast that paints a vibrant picture of the future of travel. By 2033, the world travel sector is projected to burgeon into a colossal $15.5 trillion industry, accounting for over 11.6% of the global economy. This remarkable surge signifies a 50% escalation from its value of $10 trillion in 2019, a time when travel contributed 10.4% to the world’s GDP.

The WTTC’s 10-year projection delves into the economic contributions of major tourism markets, showcasing the top five most influential travel and tourism economies of 2022 in terms of GDP contribution. These powerhouses remain unchanged from the pre-2019 era, featuring the US, China, Germany, the UK, and Japan. In a recent update, Japan has even surpassed the UK. The top 10 is completed by France, Mexico, Italy, India, and Spain.

One of the standout revelations of the report is the substantial impact on the labor market. The travel industry is expected to employ a staggering 430 million people by 2033, compared to 334 million in 2019. This translates to approximately 1 in 9 jobs associated with the sector worldwide.

What’s truly intriguing is not only the immense slice of the global economy that travel occupies but also its rapid growth, outpacing the economy at large. While economists predict global GDP growth of around 2.6% annually, the travel and tourism sector anticipates a remarkable 5.1% annual expansion.

In a pivotal projection, the WTTC predicts a seismic shift in the industry’s balance of power over the next decade. The US, currently the world’s largest travel economy with an annual output of $2 trillion, is projected to cede its leadership position to China by 2033. China’s travel sector is forecasted to contribute a staggering $4 trillion, constituting 14.1% of the Chinese economy. In contrast, the US industry is set to reach $3 trillion, accounting for 10.1% of its GDP.

The pandemic-induced delay in the return of Chinese travelers, due to border closures and processing delays, has affected the outbound travel spending of this global economic force. However, the robust recovery driven by Latin America, North America, and Europe is compensating for this lag. The industry expects to be nearly back to 2019 levels by the end of the current year.

This comeback paves the way for an even more significant surge when Chinese travelers return to the international scene, predicted by 2024. Their share of global outbound travel spending is expected to soar to 22.3% by 2033.

Despite economic uncertainties, a compelling trend emerges – people’s unwavering desire to travel. This enthusiasm has led to prioritized spending on travel experiences, reflected in recent data from the luxury travel adviser network Virtuoso. Their figures indicate a substantial uptick in sales, with a 69% increase in the first half of 2023 compared to 2019 levels. Furthermore, a surge in bookings for 2023 and early 2025, along with a preference for nature-based travel and lesser-known destinations, points to a promising future.

While the global travel landscape undergoes significant transformations, the US industry is witnessing a surge in job opportunities. An unpublished WTTC report underscores that by 2033, the US travel sector could employ 21 million people, up from 17.5 million in 2019, constituting one in eight jobs across the nation.

The travel industry’s rapid growth trajectory, along with changing trends and emerging economic powerhouses, paints a dynamic picture for the global economy. As the world rekindles its passion for exploration and adventure, the travel sector stands poised for a transformative journey toward a $15.5 trillion future by 2033.

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