The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest Economic Impact Report (EIR) reveals the North America travel and tourism sector is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.9 percent over the next decade, outstripping the 2 percent growth rate for the regional economy and reaching an impressive $3.1 trillion in 2032. Published in partnership with Oxford Economics, WTTC’s latest EIR also forecasts that travel and tourism in North America is expected to create 9.5 million new jobs between 2022 and 2032, with an average annual growth rate of 3.7 percent.
The global tourism body projects that this year the recovery will continue to pick up speed, with the sector’s contribution to GDP growing 38.2 percent to reach $2.1 trillion, with jobs rising 19 percent. The report also shows that the economic recovery for the sector is on track to reach pre-pandemic heights by 2023. Employment prosperity is not far behind, with expectations of reaching pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
According to Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, “the pandemic cost North America’s travel and tourism sector a staggering 8.85 million jobs and nearly $1.1 trillion in GDP in 2020.” She added that “the antigen test for returning U.S. citizens and visitors is redundant. Other economies have scrapped all restrictions [and] the current antigen test is slowing the U.S. recovery.”
In 2021, travel and tourism GDP remained 33.7 percent below 2019 levels at $1.5 trillion, in part due to the impact of the omicron variant and countries reinstating severe travel restrictions. U.S. and Mexico led inbound arrivals and outbound departures last year, respectively, fuelling the resurgence of the sector for North America.
Pre-pandemic, North America’s travel and tourism sector contribution to the total economy was 8.9 percent ($2.3 trillion) in 2019, falling to 5 percent ($1.25 trillion) in 2020 due to steep drops in international and domestic visitor spending when the pandemic was at its height. Employment took a similarly devastating hit, with job contributions dropping nearly 35 percent between 2019 and 2020.