Tourism to Contribute $2.6 Billion to U.S. GDP Over Next Decade: WTTC

The latest Economic Impact Report (EIR) from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that the U.S. travel and tourism sector is projected to contribute over $2.6 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) to the U.S. economy over the next decade.

By 2032, the U.S. travel and tourism sector is expected to make up 9.2 percent of the entire economy based on an average annual growth rate of 3.9 percent—nearly double the anticipated 2 percent growth rate of the U.S. economy overall. According to the forecast, produced in partnership with Oxford Economics, between 2022 and 2032, that average growth rate would represent a 47 percent increase from 2022 expected job levels.

While the global tourism body welcomes the new “National Travel and Tourism Strategy”—which aims to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, create safe and secure checkpoints, and bolster travel and tourism in underserved and underrepresented communities—the WTTC says only immediate action now can secure the long-term recovery of the sector and create more than 6.3 million jobs over the next decade.

For 2022, WTTC projects that the sector’s GDP contribution will grow by more than 42 percent versus 2021, reaching more than $1.8 billion by the end of this year and accounting for 7.6 percent of the entire U.S. economy. By year-end, the global tourism body forecasts that employment in the sector could increase as much as 28 percent, reaching 13.5 million jobs nationwide, from a high of 16.8 million in 2019.

That said, despite the strong projected growth in employment and GDP contribution over the next 10 years, WTTC’s data indicates that pressure created by slow international traveler spending in the U.S. will continue to drive a significant performance gap in the sector’s recovery this year. At the current pace of the recovery, the U.S. international spending would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, showcasing the urgency of opening borders to international travelers.

In fact, international traveler spend to the U.S. remains far below pre-pandemic levels, resulting in a slower-than-expected recovery of international tourism revenue. In 2021, international visitor spending grew a modest 1.4 percent, reaching $40.3 billion but falling far short of 2019’s total of $190.9 billion.

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