The latest Economic Impact Report (EIR) from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals the North American travel & tourism sector is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.9% over the next decade, outstripping the 2% growth rate for the regional economy and reaching an impressive $3.1 trillion in 2032.
Published in partnership with Oxford Economics, WTTC’s latest EIR also forecasts that travel & tourism in North America is expected to create a staggering 9.5 million new jobs between 2022 and 2032, with an average annual growth rate of 3.7%.
The global tourism body projects that this year the recovery will continue to pick up speed, with the sector’s contribution to GDP growing 38.2% to reach $2.1 trillion, with jobs rising 19%.
The report also shows that the economic recovery for the sector is on track to reach pre-pandemic heights by 2023. Employment prosperity is not far behind, with expectations of reaching pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
“The pandemic cost North America’s travel & tourism sector a staggering 8.85 million jobs and nearly $1.1 trillion in GDP in 2020,” said Julia Simpson, president/CEO, WTTC. “The U.S. travel and tourism business is showing a strong recovery. While we respect CDC’s tough decisions during the pandemic, the science indicates that the antigen test for returning U.S. citizens and visitors is redundant. Other economies have scrapped all restrictions; the current antigen test is slowing the U.S. recovery.”
In 2021, travel & tourism GDP remained 33.7% below 2019 levels at $1.5 trillion, in part due to the impact of the Omicron variant and countries reinstating severe travel restrictions.
U.S. and Mexico led inbound arrivals and outbound departures last year, respectively, fueling the resurgence of the travel & tourism sector for the continent.
Pre-pandemic, North America’s travel & tourism sector contribution to the total economy was 8.9% ($2.3 trillion) in 2019, falling to 5% ($1.25 trillion) in 2020 due to steep drops in international and domestic visitor spending when the pandemic was at its height. Employment took a similarly devastating hit, with job contributions dropping nearly 35% between 2019 and 2020.
Regardless of these setbacks, the 2022 EIR projects a positive tide change for the travel & tourism sector in North America that is seeing strong momentum and growth as it emerges from the broader challenges and restrictions faced by travel during the peak of the pandemic.