US retains top spot in WTTC report

SINGAPORE, 8 September 2022: The latest World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Economic Trends Report reveals the US remains the world’s biggest and most powerful travel & tourism market.

Its top ranking was reaffirmed, despite suffering long and damaging travel restrictions, which did little to halt the spread of Covid-19 and only resulted in serious economic losses.

However, while it retained its number one position, the US travel & tourism sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy fell by USD700 billion in 2019, to just under USD1.3 trillion last year.

Research by Oxford Economics for WTTC shows no change in the top three countries – with China second and Germany third.

But the rankings are illusionary as the top economies bolstered their numbers through domestic travel while international visitor numbers plummeted. The US fell from its pre-pandemic top position in the international travel-spend rankings. But despite the challenges of the past two years, the new report from the global tourism body shows business travel is on the road to recovery.

WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson said: “Our report shows the resilience of the Travel & Tourism sector, despite the impact of travel restrictions around the world which failed to halt the spread of the virus.

“Despite a challenging macro environment, Travel & Tourism has bounced back. The world, with some exceptions, is travelling again. And we are seeing a resurgence in business travel. Over the next 10 years, Travel & Tourism growth will outstrip the global economy.”

WTTC’s data reveals that regarding the Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP, China held onto its second position, with more than USD814 billion. At the same time, Germany remained the third biggest travel & tourism sector in the world, contributing USD251 billion to the German economy.

The UK slipped dramatically from fifth place in 2019 to ninth in 2021, with a contribution of just over USD157 billion, the biggest faller of the top 10 countries. In terms of international traveller spending, France, which before the pandemic struck was in fourth place, overtook Spain, China, and the US to grab first place. China was in second place before the pandemic but fell dramatically to 11th in 2021. Its borders remain closed.

Across the Asia Pacific, major travel & tourism markets such as Thailand and Japan saw huge losses in international spending, which resulted in both markets – in fifth and eighth place respectively before the pandemic – falling out of the top 20 altogether in 2021.

According to WTTC’s predictions, worldwide business travel is expected to grow more than 41% this year. For the next 10 years, it predicts business travel could grow an average of 5.5% annually and may return faster in the Asia-Pacific region.

WTTC predicts that by 2032, China could overtake the US to become the world’s biggest travel & tourism market. The research shows China’s travel & tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could reach USD3.9 trillion by 2032, making it the world’s most powerful travel & tourism market. India could leapfrog Germany to reach the third place with a projected value of USD457 billion.

To read the report in full, please click here.

(Source: WTTC)

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