The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) anticipates that spending on travel and tourism could contribute US$8.6 trillion to the global economy this year. Jenny Southan reports

New research from the World Travel and Tourism Council has revealed the global travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the global economy could reach US$8.6 trillion this year, just 6.4 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019, before the pandemic stopped travel in its tracks, the Travel & Tourism sector generated nearly US$9.2 trillion to the global economy.

However, in 2020, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill, causing a massive 49.1 per cent drop, representing a severe loss of nearly US$4.5 trillion.

Research from the WTTC indicates that if the vaccine and booster roll-out continues at pace this year – and restrictions to international travel are eased around the world throughout the year – the sector could create 58 million jobs in 2022, to reach more than 330 million, just 1 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and up 21.5 per cent up on 2020.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, says: “Over the past two years, the global travel and tourism sector has suffered tremendous losses.

“2022 is poised for a strong recovery if governments continue to open up and remove restrictions to travel. Our sector could recover more than 58 million jobs and generate US$8.6 trillion which would boost economic recovery around the world.

“As people start travelling again, governments must implement simplified rules, including the use of digital solutions. Travel of the future should be contactless while guaranteeing safety.”

The global tourism body also urges governments to “ditch the patchwork of restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions that allow travellers to prove their status in a fast, simple and secure way”.

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