by Matt Alderton | March 27, 2015
Travel and tourism's contribution to global GDP will grow 3.7 percent in 2015, and its employment will grow by 2.6 percent. By contrast, global GDP will grow 2.9 percent. So predicts the World Travel & Tourism Council in its latest forecast, which projects that travel and tourism will contribute $7.86 billion, or 10 percent of global GDP, to the world economy this year, as well as 284 million jobs, or 9.5 percent of total employment.

"At a time of global economic challenges, travel and tourism continues to grow faster than the global economy, and is an enduring source of job creation and a driver of growth for every region in the world," WTTC President and CEO David Scowsill said in a statement.

According to WTTC, the United States and China will retain their rankings as the two biggest travel and tourism economies in the world, although Germany has overtaken Japan to rank as the third largest. Russia, it said, is the only G20 country expected to register a decline in travel and tourism growth, due to the continuing sanctions being imposed and the devaluation of the rouble.

"Our annual research demonstrates that the sector has recorded strong economic growth in 19 out of the last 20 years, providing much-needed economic stability at a time of global economic volatility," Scowsill continued. "Governments looking for a sector which can create jobs and drive economic growth should focus on travel and tourism. This industry requires the right regulatory environment in which to flourish, along with progressive policies on visa access, taxation, human resources planning, and sustainability."

The U.S. Losing Stature?

Although the United States this year will retain its position as the world's largest travel and tourism economy -- by the end of 2015, WTTC predicts, travel and tourism will contribute $1.445 billion, or 8 percent of total GDP, to the U.S. economy, not to mention 13.9 million jobs, or 9 percent of total employment -- the country risks losing its status to China and Germany due to questions about visa reforms and infrastructure improvements.

"The U.S. is the world's largest travel and tourism economy, with the sector contributing over $1.4 trillion to the wider economy," Scowsill remarked. "Success of the kind experienced by the U.S. does not happen by accident and the country has taken great strides through visa liberalization and international [marketing] in recent years to attract more overseas visitors, and to make those visitors feel welcome. However, there is still more that could be done and I would urge the Obama Administration to expand further the visa waiver program and to implement policies to address the future talent shortage in the sector."

Research conducted for WTTC shows that travel and tourism could employ 647,000 fewer people and contribute $76 billion less in GDP to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years, when compared to WTTC current growth forecasts, if government and private companies fail to implement policies that promote proactive and careful talent management.

"According to WTTC forecasts, travel and tourism has the potential to contribute 17.2 million jobs and 8.7 percent of GDP to the American economy by 2025," Scowsill concluded. "However, this growth will not happen by itself. Rather, it needs progressive government policies in the areas of human resource development and visa liberalization to realize that potential."


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