The global travel and tourism sector is forecast to fully rebound from the impact of Covid-19 by 2024.
The industry’s recovery is set to reach just 5% below 2019 pre-pandemic levels this year with a GDP contribution of $9.5 trillion.
Research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council in collaboration with Oxford Economics shows that 34 countries have already exceeded 2019 levels.
Nearly half of 185 countries worldwide will have either fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels or be within 95% of full recovery by the end of the year, the WTTC projects.
The study shows that the ongoing war in Ukraine and prolonged travel restrictions imposed by a number of countries such as China had a “significant impact” on the global recovery.
But the reopening of China’s borders from January “will propel the sector and see it recover to pre-pandemic levels next year,” according to the WTTC.
Spending from overseas visitors grew by a record 82% to reach $1.1 trillion in 2022, showing that international travel is “firmly back on track”.
The sector’s recovery grew by 22% year-on-year in 2022 to reach $7.7 trillion despite economic and geopolitical difficulties.
This recovery represented 7.6% of the global economy in 2022, the highest sector contribution since before Covid, although its global GDP was still 22.9% behind its 2019 peak.
The global tourism body also expects that the sector will recover to 95% of the 2019 jobs level after Covid ravaged employment with 70 million positions lost.
Following the recovery of 11 million jobs in 2021, the industry created 21.6 million new jobs last year to reach more than 295 million globally but still below the pre-pandemic high of more than 334 million.
The sector is projected to increase its GDP contribution to $15.5 trillion over the next decade, representing 11.6% of the global economy, and will employ 430 million people around the world, representing almost 12% of the working population.
WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “The travel and tourism sector continues to recover at pace, demonstrating the resilience of the sector and the enduring desire to travel.
“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. Travel and tourism will be a growth sector over the next ten years.
“The recovery will speed up this year as Chinese travellers re-enter the market. Travel and tourism provides 300 million jobs worldwide.”