APAC tourism sector set to recover by nearly 40%, says WTTC

The recovery of Asia-Pacific’s travel and tourism sector has soared ahead of many regions in the world with a year-on-year growth of more than 36 per cent, according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Before the pandemic struck, Asia-Pacific’s travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP represented more than US$3 trillion, or 9.9 per cent of the region’s economy.

Asia-Pacific’s tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could see a year-on-year increase of 36.3 per cent this year, says WTTC; tourists visiting Singapore’s Merlion Park under the vaccinated travel lane scheme pictured

After the pandemic brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, in 2020, Asia-Pacific saw a hit of almost 54 per cent, halving the contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the region’s economy.

However, according to the research, and based on the current rate of recovery, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP could see a year-on-year increase of 36.3 per cent this year, ahead of the global average of 30.7 per cent, which represents an increase of US$515 billion.

The data also revealed travel and tourism’s contribution to the Asia-Pacific economy could see a similar year-on-year rise of 35.8 per cent in 2022, representing an increase of US$692 billion.

Domestic spend is expected to grow by 49 per cent by the end of this year and experience a year-on-year rise of more than a quarter (25.5 per cent) in 2022.

WTTC’s research goes on to show that while international spend is predicted to drop by nearly 25 per cent on 2020 figures, one of the worst years on record for the travel and tourism sector, 2022 is looking more positive.

Next year, international spend growth is set to rise by US$156 billion (148 per cent), providing a massive boost to the region’s economy.

In terms of employment, in 2019, the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism sector supported more than 185 million jobs.

After a loss of over 34 million jobs last year, when travel restrictions brought international mobility to an almost complete standstill, employment growth is set to rise by a marginal 0.4 per cent in 2021.

However, employment growth could experience a 19.8 per cent year-on-year increase, reaching more than 181 million jobs in 2022.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president & CEO, said: “Our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover, Asia-Pacific is doing so at a much faster rate.

“Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as the Philippines, host to our prestigious annual Global Summit next March, are not only ramping up their entire vaccination programme, but also focusing on speeding up the vaccination rollout in key tourism destinations and (among) frontline tourism sector workers in order to reboot their travel and tourism sectors.

“With high vaccination rates around the region, and a predicted rise in international and domestic spend next year, the outlook for both jobs and GDP is looking much more positive for next year.”

According to the research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and the rise in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if five vital measures are met by governments around the world.

These measures include allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination. Secondly, the implementation of digital solutions which enable all travellers to easily prove their Covid status, in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world.

Thirdly, for safe international travel to fully restart, governments must recognise all vaccines authorised by WHO. Fourthly, continued support of the COVAX/UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.

Finally, the continued implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols, which will underpin customer confidence.

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