Asia will be backbone of global travel explosion in next decade
Asian tourists will drive an explosion in global travel with the industry projected to be worth US$10.5 trillion in the next decade, outpacing growth in the wider economy.
The tourism industry was worth $6.6 trillion last year, representing 9% of global GDP and employing one in 11 people, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which held its annual summit in Abu Dhabi during the last week.
By 2023, the body expects the sector to account for 10% of global GDP, and employ one in 10 people.
Last year, the number of positions in the industry increased by 5 million to 260 million, accounting for one in 11 jobs globally. The total economic impact of the industry rose by 3% in the period, faster than many other sectors.
WTTC President and Chief Executive David Scowsill explains "(our) latest annual research shows that the travel and tourism industry outperformed the global economy in 2012, growing faster than manufacturing, retail, financial services and communications.
"Over the next 10 years, travel and tourism GDP is set to grow by 4.4% on average per year, outpacing growth in the wider economy and other industries, notably retail and public services."
Total employment in the sector is forecast to rise by more than 70 million jobs over the next decade, with two thirds of those additional jobs in Asia.
Scowsill adds "over the next 10 years we will see significant movement in terms of travel and tourism GDP, from the mature to the newly emerged and emerging markets.
"Asia will continue to lead growth of the global travel and tourism industry over the next decade, with annual average growth of more than 6%, driven by increasing wealth among its middle classes."
By 2023, the WTTC thinks China will overtake the United States as the world's largest travel and tourism economy, measured in terms of total GDP and the size of the outbound market, which is why many countries are stepping up efforts to attract Chinese tourists.
However, speaking at 13th annual WTTC Global Summit speakers warned of tough times ahead, saying the travel industry is facing rapid economic changes that will force businesses to adapt or face extinction.
Boston Consulting Group Managing Director Daniel Stelter told delegates "some companies that are in this room will not exist in the future.
"In the past, you would go to a travel agency and buy an entire package for your itinerary. Today, you go online on Google, arrange your trip. I'm not saying tour operators won't exist in the future, but they will have to change significantly."
Europe's debt crisis, and the subsequent slowdown of euro-zone economies, will have an impact on the industry, with Stelter adding "what has happened in Cyprus is just the beginning of what we will see in the rest of Europe."
Hadeel Al Sayegh and Gillian Duncan, The National
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