The World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts global travel spending to break pre-pandemic levels, exceeding $11 trillion in 2024. Gemma Harris reports

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts a record-breaking year for the sector in 2024, according to the latest data derived from the Economic Impact Research (EIR). The body anticipates the sector surpassing pre-pandemic levels, contributing US$11.1 trillion to the global economy.

This represents an increase of US$770 billion over the previous record set in 2019 before the pandemic brought international tourism to a standstill, generating US$1 in every US$10 dollars worldwide. The WTTC expects 142 of the 185 countries analysed to outperform past tourism highs in 2024.

The latest EIR, in partnership with Oxford Economics, showcases a sector “brimming with opportunities”. WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson says: “Against the backdrop of uncertainty, the travel and tourism sector remains a global economic powerhouse.”Women on vacationInternational visitor spending is forecast to reach US$1.89 trillion in 2024, nearly regaining its 2019 peak. Meanwhile, domestic tourist spending is expected to hit a new high of US$5.4 trillion. Overall, projections see that the sector will generate 348 million jobs worldwide, an increase of 13.6 million over its pre-pandemic employment high.

“This isn’t just about breaking records; we’re no longer talking about a recovery – this is a story of the sector back at its best after a difficult few years, providing a significant economic boost to countries around the world and supporting millions of jobs,” adds Simpson.

While 2023 demonstrated the world’s desire to travel again, according to this data, 2024 is projected to be a record-breaking year, with spending and job creation outperforming records.

These figures are despite two of the global tourism markets seeing a slower return of international tourist spend, with the 2023 US spending remaining down more than a quarter below peak 2019 levels and China visit spending down by 60 per cent.

Simpson says: “We need the US and Chinese governments to support their national Travel and Tourism sectors. The US and China will continue to suffer whilst other countries are seeing international visitors return much faster.”

Looking ahead to 2034, WTTC envisions a US$16 trillion tourism industry supporting 449 million jobs, nearly one in every eight workers globally, 12.2 per cent of the workforce, resulting in 11.4 per cent of the total economic landscape.