The World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC) 2023 Global Trends report paints a hopeful picture of the future of travel and tourism, even as it charts its rocky journey through the pandemic.
A decade of steady growth, from 2010 to 2019, saw investment in the sector expand from USD $754.6 billion to USD $1.1 trillion. The pandemic abruptly halted the momentum, with a steep 24% decline in 2020 and another 8% in 2021.
But 2022 emerged as the beacon year. Driven by pent-up global demand, investment in travel and tourism soared to USD $856 billion, a heartening 11.1% increment from the previous year. Despite lagging 22.5% behind the 2019 figures, this marked a 53% growth from 2000 levels.
Asia-Pacific and Africa lead the growth trajectory, boasting a 2022 investment rate 161% higher than that of 2000. While showing more modest growth, Europe and the Middle East still managed to surpass their 2000 levels.
In 2022, the U.S. led the top ten markets in terms of absolute investment in the sector with USD $213 billion, China followed with USD $146 billion, and Saudi Arabia secured the third spot with USD $42 billion.
The U.S. Virgin Islands allocated 35% of their total economic investment to travel and tourism. Antigua & Barbuda and Aruba followed with 34% and almost 32%, respectively.
According to WTTC, investing privately in new planes, accommodations, and vehicle collections is vital to enhance the industry's potential. When paired with public funding, this collaboration results in a formidable combined impact.
Looking ahead, WTTC predicts an 11.5% growth for 2023, taking the figures to USD $955 billion, anticipating a return to pre-pandemic levels by 2025, and projecting an average 6.1% annual growth by 2033. Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean are expected to spearhead this growth.
Such investments are crucial. Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, emphasized, "Investment in Travel & Tourism is not just a numbers game; it is the heartbeat of global connectivity and economic revival. Despite the setbacks from the pandemic, 2022's growth is a promising sign of what's to come."