The world travel and tourism sector is forecast to reach $9.5 trillion in 2023, according to new research by an industry group.
Having suffered massive losses after the onset of the coronavirus, the sector is projected to recover by more than 95% of its 2019 levels when it was at its highest, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said on Wednesday.
Jobs in the travel and tourism sector are also projected to catch 95% of the pre-pandemic levels, according to the 2023 Economic Impact Research conducted by WTTC in collaboration with Oxford Economics.
In 2022, despite the economic and geopolitical difficulties, the world travel and tourism sector grew by 22% year-on-year to reach $7.7 trillion.
It made 7.6% of the global economy last year, the highest sector contribution since 2019, although its gross domestic product (GDP) was 22.9% below its 2019 peak.
According to the research, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and prolonged travel restrictions imposed by some countries had a significant impact on the global recovery in 2022.
“But the recent decision by the Chinese government to reopen its borders from January will propel the sector and see it recover to pre-pandemic levels next year,” it added.
The global travel and tourism sector generated 21.6 million new jobs in 2022 to reach more than 295 million, one in 11 jobs worldwide.
Overseas visitors' spending surged by a record 82% to hit $1.1 trillion in 2022, indicating that international travel is firmly back on track.
Julia Simpson, the president and CEO of the WTTC, said: "By the end of the year, the sector’s contribution will be within touching distance of the 2019 peak. We expect 2024 to exceed 2019."
The world tourism body forecasts that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to $15.5 trillion by 2033, making 11.6% of the global economy, and will employ 430 million people around the world, with almost 12% of the working population employed in the sector.