International cities power tourism recovery

SINGAPORE, 6 December 2022: The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) launched its Cities Economic Impact Report (EIR) at the 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh last week.

Sponsored by Visa, the report shows cities remain the powerhouses of global tourism and will drive the recovery of the sector and economies worldwide.

The Cities EIR analyses 82 international city destinations and shows that before the pandemic,  cities were popular travel destinations, accounting for almost half of all international visits, both as standalone destinations and as gateways to other tourism hotspots within countries.

Covid-19 had a devastating impact on Travel & Tourism, particularly in cities worldwide, as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, and as borders began to reopen, leisure travellers swapped major metropolises for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural hotspots, leaving economies of international cities to battle through an incredibly tough three years.

Thousands of hotels, restaurants, and attractions in cities worldwide were forced to close, with hard-working people losing their jobs as businesses struggled to stay open during these challenging times.

The Cities EIR shows how leisure and business travellers are flocking back to cities. Their draw as iconic destinations is again becoming the beating heart of international tourism destinations and business centres for overseas visitors.

According to the report, 10 of the 82 cities analysed are projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels in terms of direct Travel & Tourism GDP contribution to the city economies this year.

Qatar’s capital Doha is forecast to see the largest increase from 2019 to 2022, in terms of international traveller spending as well as in direct Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the city’s GDP, with an expected increase of 21%.

In Europe, Warsaw is expected to witness a 14% increase in 2022 versus 2019 in Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the city’s GDP.

In the US, Orlando is projected to see a 10% increase in direct Travel & Tourism contribution to the city’s GDP over that same period.

Over the next decade, Travel & Tourism is on track to become a key driver of economic growth again, with faster GDP growth than other sectors, generating 126 million new jobs worldwide.

By 2032, the Travel & Tourism sector will directly generate up to 8% of all jobs in the 82 cities analysed in the Cities Report, up from 6.6% in 2019 and a low of 5.1% in 2020.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Our report clearly shows that cities remain iconic global destinations for millions of tourists worldwide. There’s still a strong appetite to experience the history, culture, and energy that cities offer travellers.

“Before the pandemic, cities were powerhouses for international tourists, serving as standalone destinations and as gateways to other tourist destinations within countries. This year cities are recovering worldwide, and we forecast that cities will continue to grow and thrive over the next decade.

Jeni Mundy, Head of Global Merchant Sales and Acquiring, Visa, said: “Even after the colossal challenges the pandemic brought to the travel industry, the economic benefit of tourism to cities remains strong. Consumers’ willingness to adopt digital-first travel experiences will help pave the way for future innovations.

“At Visa, we remain focused on how payments technology can make a traveller’s journey more seamless – something anyone who’s had a travel hiccup can appreciate.

(Source: WTTC)