Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Dec 09, 2019

Sustainable growth the path to a secure future for tourism

Forecast 2020


Worldwide travel and tourism GDP has outpaced overall global GDP for the past eight years, and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is predicting that the trend will continue for the next decade or so. That was the upbeat message delivered recently to Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) annual congress delegates by WTTC chief executive Gloria Guevara.

She told the Ottawa gathering that 2018 numbers showed that global GDP growth stood at 3.2% for the year, while GDP for travel and tourism was up 3.9%, making for a 10.4% contribution to the worldwide economy.

And she pointed out that there are currently 319 million jobs – or one in ten – supported by the world’s T&T industry, but noted that one in five of the new jobs created are in the leisure sector.


Turning to North America as a whole, Guevara explained that travel and tourism – at C$2.5 trillion – accounts for 8.2% of GDP and 11.1% of all jobs.

Breaking down the Canadian numbers, she said that T&T’s C$143 billion contribution to the bottom line GDP accounts for 8.6% of the total job force. And the UK-based, former secretary of tourism for Mexico added that last year’s 2.9% T&T GDP growth here outshone the 2.3% result south of the border.

According to Guevara’s report to TIAC – entitled “a global perspective on tourism” – today’s numbers will be dwarfed over the next decade or so. She cited an IATA prediction that the volume of air travellers worldwide will grow from the current 4.2 billion annually to 8.2 billion by 2037, asking tongue in cheek, “will the number of airports also double?”

WTTC’s own prognosis figures travel and tourism’s contribution to global GDP will rise from the current 10.4% to 11.5% by 2029, while the number of jobs supported by the industry will increase from 319 million to 421 million, while accounting for one quarter of all new jobs.


Guevara explained that WTTC’s vision is that travel and tourism grows sustainably for a better world and its mission is “to maximize the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of T&T by partnering with governments, destinations, communities and other stakeholders to drive economic development, create jobs, reduce poverty and foster peace, security and understanding in our world.”

In order to help achieve its goals, WTTC recently conducted one-on-one interviews with 80% of its national tourism organization members in order to identify their top priorities going forward.

Guevara revealed that the three strategic priorities that emerged from the interviews were security and travel facilitation, crisis preparedness, management and recovery, along with managing sustainable growth.


Meanwhile, a Euromonitor International report, unveiled recently at World Travel Market echoed the WTTC stance that the global travel industry continues to power on and is expected to grow 3.3% year-on-year in constant terms and forecast to top US$3.3 trillion by 2024.

The report predicted, “Online will account for the lion’s share of travel sales at 52%, with mobile sales representing a quarter of all travel bookings in value terms as the travel industry continues its digital transformation.”

The UK-based market research firm noted, “We expect international arrivals to amount to 1.8 billion trips by 2024 but this pales in comparison to the sheer size of domestic tourism, which is expected to reach 19 billion.”

“This will be driven by rising incomes in emerging markets making travel more accessible to a wider range of audiences, causing an 8% annual growth compared to 4.3% for international arrivals,” the report explained.


While Euromonitor International concedes that “the global travel industry continues to power on,” it warned, “However, there is a change in the air as climate activism is leading to greater awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable development.”

And it added, “Furthermore, the tide is turning on inclusion where travel brands and destinations are slowly waking up to the need to be accessible for all visitors regardless of age and ability, leveraging new technology to deliver truly personalized experiences.”

The report pointed out, “Social media continues to be a big influence on consumers when planning their trips. Now, social commerce is emerging where they can book hotels directly on Instagram from influencers’ stories, and influencers are also making the move from social to tour operator and taking their followers with them.”

And it advised, “Investment in technology is key to help travel operators stay ahead of the competition with more companies looking into new business models such as subscription or working with Super Apps, as a way to meet consumer needs for greater convenience and a seamless user experience.”