The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has released a new social impact paper focusing on the travel and tourism sector. It has been compiled to showcase the sector’s importance as a driver of economic growth and in enhancing social progress across the world through its diverse and inclusive nature, ability in enriching communities and as a creator of jobs and alleviating poverty, and catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The paper says that raising awareness and understanding the social impact of travel and tourism has always been tremendously important, but it is much more critical in light of the effects of COVID-19 on the sector globally. This research, undertaken in collaboration with the Social Progress Imperative, shows significant correlations between WTTC’s Economic Impact Report data and Social Progress Index scores over the last decade. Specifically, total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP and employment positively and significantly affects Social Progress Index scores; with China, Cambodia, Rwanda and Sri Lanka highlighted as particularly strong performers.
This comes at a time where the travel and tourism sector has been ravished by the pandemic, and there is a pressing need to recover the hundreds of millions of jobs lost, with WTTC’s latest economic modeling suggesting that 174 million jobs were impacted in 2020 globally.
According to the research, in many parts of the world travel and tourism has enriched people at a faster rate than the overall economy. To note: Between 2011 and 2019, Southeast Asia recorded the fastest annual growth rate in travel and tourism GDP per capita at 6.7 percent compared to the region’s 3.7 percent overall economy growth; while the Middle East achieved a 3 percent travel and tourism GDP per capita growth compared to just 0.3 percent for the overall region’s economy.
International travel and tourism and, particularly, international spend, is vital to support the job creation from megacities to rural communities. According to the research, at the global level, for every 34 international visitors to a destination, one new job is created. This figure is more important in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, where it respectively takes 11, 13 and 24 international visitors for the creation of one new job.
The paper also shows that for every $1 generated in direct travel and tourism GDP globally, more than $2 is generated indirectly. This means that more than twice as much value is generated across the entire supply chain thanks to travel and tourism. Similarly, for every direct job globally, nearly two new jobs are created on an indirect or induced basis, with one direct job in travel and tourism effectively creating a total of three jobs.
Additionally, diversity in the travel ecosystem, as it relates to race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion and physical ability, is fundamental to the success of businesses, the meaningful impact on communities and the improved experience of travelers.