WTTC Reveals Paris as World’s Most Powerful City Destination

New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed the French capital Paris as the world’s most powerful city destination but predicts it will be overtaken by Beijing by 2032. The report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analyzed key indicators such as travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and traveler spend.

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on travel and tourism and in particular major cities around the world as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic. As borders reopened, many leisure travelers swapped city visits for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural destinations, but latest research from WTTC shows that city holidays are back and growing in popularity. Thus, Paris takes the crown as the world’s most powerful city destination with a travel and tourism sector worth almost $36 billion in 2022, in terms of direct GDP contribution to the city.

Over the next 10 years, however, WTTC predicts the city will drop down to third place, although its value will rise to over $49 billion. Beijing, currently the second biggest city destination in the world with a travel and tourism sector worth nearly $33 billion, is expected to leapfrog Paris within the next 10 years, growing to a staggering $77 billion. China’s national travel and tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations. This investment will likely see Shanghai’s sector, worth nearly $30 billion last year, more than double to almost $71 billion by 2032, to become the world’s second most powerful city destination. 

Behind Paris and Beijing, often dubbed the theme park capital of the world, Orlando’s travel and tourism sector was valued at $31 billion in 2022, good for thirs on the list. That said, despite predictions suggesting it will grow by almost 50 percent to $45 billion by 2032, it will drop down to become the fourth biggest city destination.

Las Vegas is the only city in the top 10, which is predicted to hold its place, firmly staying as the fifth largest city destination. Last year, Las Vegas’s travel and tourism sector was worth nearly $23 billion and is expected to grow to over $36 billion by 2032.

Other cities outside the top 10 showing promising growth as emerging destinations include the Polish capital of Warsaw, which has seen a 14.4 percent increase in its GDP contribution in 2022 versus 2019. Sanya, the Chinese coastal city, which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years as holidaymakers visited its beaches witnessed a 10.2 percent growth during that same period. Its travel and tourism sector represents 43.6 percent of the city’s total economy. 

Over the next decade, travel and tourism is on track to become a key driver of economic growth once again, with faster GDP growth than other sectors, generating 126 million new jobs around the world.