Travel to Grow at Double the Speed of the Global Economy: World Tourism Day Optimistic for Future

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The industry is marking 27SEP, the first World Tourism Day since the large-scale return of travel following the pandemic, and recovery and optimism were the themes of the day. 

In Bali, Indonesia, representatives from travel and tourism were invited to the G20 Tourism Ministers’ meeting on 27SEP, reports Breaking Travel News

Julia Simpson, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), emphasized that enhanced collaboration between the public and private sector is needed now more than ever to ensure a full recovery and a sustainable future.

She told the ministers that travel and tourism are central to the world’s economic recovery, noting the sector is set to grow at double the speed of the global economy over the next 10 years.

WTTC’s latest research shows that while COVID-19 had a devastating effect on travel and tourism, the future now looks promising. It predicts the sector will create more than 126 million jobs globally over the next 10 years. Two-thirds of these jobs - 82 million by 2032 - will be created in G20 countries.

Recovery to Date

World Tourism Day 2022 comes as research indicates that the travel industry has recovered to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. 

The data also showed that international tourist arrivals almost tripled from JAN 2022 to JUL 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, from 175 million to 474 million. An estimated 207 million international arrivals were recorded in JUN and JUL 2022 combined, over twice the numbers seen in the same two months last year.

Pent-up demand for international travel has been facilitated by an easing or complete cancellation of COVID-related travel restrictions around the world. Almost 90 countries currently have no restrictions, according to Travel Daily News International.

According to the UNWTO, optimism in the industry remains high. On a scale of 0 to 200, the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts rated the period MAY-AUG 2022 with a score of 125, matching their responses in a similar survey in MAY. Looking ahead to 2023, 65 per cent forecast a better tourism performance than in 2022.

Roadblocks to Recovery

While travellers are starting to explore the world once again, both the WTTC and the UNWTO say challenges remain. 

In her speech, the WTTC’s Simpson flagged potential roadblocks: “Recovery could be hampered by economic headwinds. Rising energy prices, cost of living, labour shortages, airspace restrictions, and, of course, climate change, all threaten the full recovery of our sector.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism continues to recover steadily, yet several challenges remain, from geopolitical to economic.” Concerns include stressed airport infrastructure, the invasion of Ukraine and a global economy impacted by increasing interest rates and inflation, sparking fears of a recession.

Nonetheless, he added, “The sector is bringing back hope and opportunity for people everywhere. Now is also the time to rethink tourism, where it is going and how it impacts people and the planet.”

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