WTTC measures travel’s social impact

LONDON, 15 February 2021: The World Travel & Tourism Council has released a study illustrating the industry’s role as a driver of social impact.

WTTC’s Social Impact Paper shows tourism drives economic growth and enhances social progress through its ability to enrich communities. As a creator of jobs, it plays a role in alleviating poverty and is also a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The paper, undertaken in collaboration with the Social Progress Imperative (SPI), shows significant correlations between WTTC’s Economic Impact Report data and Social Progress Index scores over the last decade. Specifically, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP and employment significantly impacts Social Progress Index scores. China, Cambodia, Rwanda and Sri Lanka are highlighted as particularly strong performers.

This comes at a time where the Travel & Tourism sector has been ravished by the pandemic, and there is a pressing need to recover the hundreds of millions of jobs lost, with WTTC’s latest economic modelling suggesting that 174 million jobs were impacted in 2020 globally.

According to the research, in many parts of the world, tourism has enriched people at a faster rate than the overall economy.

Between 2011 and 2019, Southeast Asia recorded the fastest annual growth rate in travel and tourism GDP per capita at 6.7% compared to the region’s 3.7% overall economy growth; while the Middle East achieved a 3% GDP per capita growth compared to just 0.3% for the overall region’s economy.

International travel revenue is vital to support job creation from megacities to rural communities. According to the research, for every 34 international visitors to a destination, one new job is created. This figure is more important in Africa, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, where it respectively takes 11, 13 and 24 international visitors for the creation of one new job.

The paper also shows that for every USD1 generated in direct travel and tourism GDP globally, more than USD2 is generated indirectly.

For every direct job globally, nearly two new jobs are created on an indirect or induced basis, with one direct job in travel and tourism effectively creating a total of three positions.

Additionally, diversity in the travel ecosystem, as it relates to race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, and physical ability, is fundamental to the success of businesses, the meaningful impact on communities, and the improved experience of travellers.

WTTC president and CEO, Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC is proud to release this critical research focusing on social impact, which highlights how essential travel and tourism is to our world.

“Travel & Tourism is one of the most diverse sectors, employing people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, with almost 54% of whom are women and up to 30% youths.

“After nearly a full year of insecurity and hardship that has come from the Covid-19 pandemic, the time could not be more appropriate to celebrate the importance of the sector.”

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, travel and tourism supported one in 10 jobs (330 million total), made a 10.3% contribution to global GDP, and generated one in four of all new jobs.