2022 Tourism Projected to Top Pre-Pandemic Levels

From Business Traveler magazine FEBRUARY 14, 2022 BY HANNAH BRANDLER

The US travel and tourism industry is forecast to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year, according to projections from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The sector’s contribution to the US GDP is predicted to finish the year at almost $2 trillion, a rise of 6.2 percent over the $1.87 trillion travel and tourism posted in 2019, according to WTTC’s latest modeling forecasts.

An analysis by WTTC and Oxford Economics found that spending on domestic travel and tourism in the US this year is projected to outperform pre-pandemic levels by 11.3 percent, reach over $1.1 trillion.

The forecast also projects spending by international travelers in the US could reach nearly $155 billion in 2022, a growth of $113 billion over last year, but still 14 percent below 2019 levels.

Travel and tourism employment could also surpass pre-pandemic levels, reaching nearly 16.8 million jobs – above pre-pandemic levels by almost 200,000 jobs.

However the WTTC warns that its forecast is dependent on governments easing global travel restrictions and the continuing rollout of the vaccine and booster programs around the world.

“Our latest forecast shows the recovery significantly picking up this year as infection rates subside and travelers continue benefiting from the protection offered by the vaccine and boosters,” said Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC.

“As travel restrictions ease and consumer confidence returns, we expect a welcome release of pent-up travel and tourism demand. That, together with what we hope will be a strong consumer-led economic recovery, creates a positive outlook for the sector.”

In 2019 the travel and tourism sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion for the global economy, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic slashed that in half, with 2020 posting a loss of nearly $4.5 trillion, a drop of 49.1 percent.

Recent research by WTTC shows that the sector could grow to $8.6 trillion this year, just 6.4 percent behind pre-pandemic levels.


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