Report: Travel Industry Outperformed Global Economy in 2012

The travel and tourism industry outperformed the global economy in 2012, growing faster than manufacturing, retail, financial services and communications, according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Released yesterday, the research shows that travel and tourism increased its total contribution to GDP by 3 percent, or $500 billion, last year, reaching $6.6 trillion and 9 percent of total GDP. What’s more, travel and tourism generated $765 billion in global investment and $1.2 trillion in global exports, representing 5 percent of the world’s total in both categories.

Travel and tourism also created jobs last year, according to WTTC, adding five million new jobs and reaching global employment of 260 million. As a result, one out of every 11 jobs in the world is now supported by travel and tourism.

“2012 demonstrated again just how resilient the travel and tourism industry is,” WTTC President and CEO David Scowsill said in a statement. “Despite many economic difficulties, last year, for the first time, we saw more than one billion international travelers cross an international border. This industry is an important driver for countries’ economic development and growth strategies. Our industry is responsible for creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty and broadening horizons. But we need international institutions and governments to recognize its strength, to remove restrictive visa and tax regimes, and to work with the private sector to stimulate that growth.”

WTTC predicts further growth for travel and tourism in 2013. This year, it forecasts, the industry will increase its total contribution to GDP by another 3.2 percent while creating another 6 million jobs worldwide.

“It is clear that the industry is going to be a significant driver of global growth and employment for the next decade,” Scowsill continued. “The rise in emerging market destinations explains some of the strong growth in [travel and tourism] (particularly employment). As the shift from a manufacturing to a services economy increases in many countries, so the share of [travel and tourism] employment out of total employment will increase, as will the share of tourism’s contribution to total GDP.”

Growing faster than any other economy, Scowsill pointed out, is China, which WTTC forecasts will overtake the United States to be the world’s largest travel and tourism economy by 2023.

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