U.S. Travel to Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2022: WTTC

New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that the U.S.’ travel and tourism sector is already rebounding in 2021, and may even surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Data showed that the sector is expected to reach a year-over-year growth of 35.6 per cent in 2021. That shows U.S. travel is clearly moving out of pandemic lows – and is outpacing the average recovery rate for global tourism. This growth represents an increase of $393b, for a total contribution of nearly $1.5 trillion to the U.S. GDP this year.

In comparison, the global economy is set to receive a 30.7 per cent year-over-year increase from the travel & tourism sector in 2021.

At the current rate, the U.S. is also expected to receive further year-over-year growth of 28.4 per cent in 2022. This would represent an increase of $425b to bring the sector’s total contribution to the U.S. economy to over $1.9 trillion.

In comparison, the U.S. travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP in 2019 represented just under $1.9 trillion. During the pandemic in 2020, the sector’s contribution dropped 41 per cent to just $1.1 trillion.

Travel Spending

According to the WTTC, travel spending in the U.S. is expected to increase by 40.4 per cent, or by $261b, in 2021, mostly driven by domestic travel.

Due to prolonged travel restrictions, international travel is only set to grow by 1.9 per cent this year. However, due to the recent reopening of the American borders to international travel, a 228 per cent jump is expected in 2022, representing an increase of $98b from international travel for a total contribution of $141b.

Call to Action

The WTTC has called on governments around the world to implement 5 measures to support the return of travel globally:

  • Allowing fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, no matter their origin or final destination;
  • Implementing digital solutions that enable travelers to easily prove their COVID status, thereby speeding up the process at borders around the world;
  • Recognizing all vaccines authorized by WHO;
  • Supporting the COVAX/UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines in countries around the world; and
  • Continuing to implement health and safety protocols, to boost traveller confidence.

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