WTTC: North America Shows Good Travel and Tourism Recovery  

Latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the recovery of North America’s travel and tourism sector has raced ahead of many other regions of the world. With recovery taking place faster than expected, its contribution to GDP is forecast to rise 38 percent this year, ahead of the global average. According to the WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, the successful vaccination rollouts in North American countries such as the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, along with recently relaxed travel restrictions, are helping the fast recovery of the sector.

Before the pandemic struck, North America’s travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP represented nearly $2.2 trillion (8.8 percent of the total economy); however, as international travel ground to an almost complete standstill last year, its contribution fell to $1.25 trillion. According to the new research, and at the current rate of recovery, the region will recoup more than a third, with a year-on-year growth of 38 percent, reaching a total contribution of $1.7 trillion. WTTC data also adds that the region could see a year-on-year rise of 26.4 percent next year, bringing the sector’s contribution to the North American economy back to pre-pandemic levels at nearly $2.2 trillion.

While the local economy has gained from a rise in domestic spend, estimated to grow by 43.7 percent by the end of this year, and 21.4 percent in 2022, recent changes to international travel restrictions are also likely to provide an upsurge in international spend.

The global tourism body’s research shows that international spend looks set to rise by a moderate 16.9 percent this year. Next year, however, the region will benefit considerably from vaccine rollouts and more relaxed travel restrictions, with international spending predicted to grow by 147 percent.

After a loss of over seven million travel and tourism jobs last year, employment is also set to grow considerably this year. According to the data, year-on-year growth could hit a high of more than 25 percent. Jobs in the sector could climb even further and rise 16.7 percent next year, bringing the total number of people employed in the sector ahead of pre-pandemic levels, to nearly 27 million.

According to the WTTC research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and the increase in jobs could be even more positive this year and next, if five vital measures are met by governments globally. Firstly, these measures include allowing fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination. Secondly, the implementation of digital solutions which enable all travelers to easily prove their COVID status, in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world. Thirdly, for safe international travel to fully restart, governments must recognize for all vaccines authorized by WHO, a step already taken by the U.S. Fourthly, continued support of the COVAX/UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world. Finally, the continued implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols, which will underpin customer confidence.

If these five measures are followed before the end of 2021, research shows that the impact on the economy and jobs across North America could be considerable. The travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could rise by 43.3 percent by the end of this year, bringing the sector’s contribution to GDP to nearly $1.8 trillion. Additionally, next year, its contribution could rise a further of 28.8 percent, catapulting it beyond 2019 levels to over $2.3 trillion. Domestic spending could increase by 49.4 percent this year, followed by a further 23 percent year-on-year growth in 2022. International spending would also gain from government action. It could rise 21 percent this year, and significantly outpace domestic spend next year, with a year-on-year increase of 164 percent.

This, in turn, could have a positive effect on employment in the region with a 30.1 percent increase in jobs this year, and a year-on-year increase of 18.9 percent in 2022. These additional jobs would bring the total number of those working in the sector to 28.3 million—almost three million more than pre-pandemic levels.

Source: WTTC

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