The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) has revealed that the U.S. travel & tourism sector is forecast to exceed the 2019 peak this year.
The sector is set to contribute $2.24 trillion to the U.S. economy this year, surpassing the 2019 pre-pandemic high of $2.17 trillion.
WTTC is also forecasting that the sector will create more than 1.2 million jobs this year, recovering almost all of the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic to reach 17.4 million.
Last year, the travel & tourism sector’s GDP contribution grew by 16.9% to reach more than $2 trillion, representing 7.9% of the American economy, edging closer to the 2019 high of $2.17 trillion. But the prolonged travel restrictions imposed by key source markets such as China and Japan, had an ongoing impact on the sector’s recovery in the U.S.
Last year the sector also created 2.7 million more jobs from the previous year to reach 16.17 million jobs nationally—one in 10 jobs across America. The sector has now recovered 6.75 million of the 8 million jobs lost during the pandemic.
Last year also saw the return of international travelers heading to the U.S. with spending from overseas visitors growing 158%. International visitors spent almost $116 billion. However, the ongoing travel restrictions from key source markets for the U.S. has stalled international visitor spend from a full recovery to the 2019 peak. It is still 43.4% behind 2019 when international visitors spent more than $204 billion.
“The travel & tourism sector in the U.S. is recovering strongly with strong visitor demand, and this year, WTTC expects tourism to add more than $2.2 trillion to the U.S. economy, beating the all-time high of 2019,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president/CEO. “The number of jobs created by travel & tourism stands at 16 million, but by the end of this year, it will reach almost 17.4 million jobs, only 1% behind 2019 numbers. In 2022, the value of the sector was worth $2.01 trillion compared to $2.17 trillion in 2019. Over the next 10 years, WTTC forecasts that travel & tourism will account for almost 21 million jobs, which would be one in eight jobs across the country. The U.S. remains the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism market although predictions show China will take that crown in 2032.”
The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to more than $3 trillion by 2033, 10% of the U.S. economy and will employ almost 21 million people across the country, with one in eight Americans working in the sector.
In 2022, the North American travel & tourism sector contributed $2.34 trillion to the regional economy, just 7% below the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the region’s GDP contribution from the sector will fully recover in 2023 to reach $2.59 trillion.
The sector employed 24.7 million people across the region in 2022, an increase of 3.6 million from the previous year but still 1.5 million behind the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the sector will fully recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2023.