New research from WTTC puts size of travel and tourism industry into perspective


The global travel and tourism industry is double the size of automotive manufacturing and roughly one-third larger than chemicals manufacturing.
This is according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) sponsored by American Express, launched on the eve of WTTC’s 12th Global Summit in Tokyo, Japan.

The research, undertaken by Oxford Economics, shows that the sector’s direct contribution to world GDP of US$2 trillion (2.8 percent) is more than double the GDP of automotive manufacturing and one-third larger than the global chemicals industry. Travel and tourism generates roughly the same GDP as the global education and communications sectors, and about half that of the global banking and financial services industry.

The sector’s total contribution to world GDP (taking direct, indirect, and induced impacts into account) of US$6.3trillion (9.1 percent) in 2011, compares with 8 percent contribution of automotive manufacturing and mining.

Travel and tourism directly contributes more to GDP than automotive manufacturing in every region of the world, three times more in the Americas, and twice as much in Europe. The sector’s contribution to GDP is larger than the chemicals industry in every world region except Asia.

In terms of employment, the importance of the sector is even more pronounced. After education, travel and tourism is the top job creator with an average of 50 jobs generated by US$1 million in spend, this is twice as many jobs as created by financial services, communications, and auto manufacturing.
In 2011, 98 million people were directly employed by travel and tourism. This is:

• 6 times more than automotive manufacturing,
• 5 times more than the global chemicals industry,
• 4 times more than the global mining industry,
• 2 times more than the global communications industry, and
• A third more than the global financial services industry.

Taking the indirect and induced employment into account, travel and tourism sustained 255 million jobs in 2011, 1 in 12 of all jobs in the world. This exceeds the jobs impact of automotive manufacturing, chemicals manufacturing, and mining and is slightly less than education, communications, and financial services.
Travel and tourism directly sustains more jobs than the automotive and chemicals manufacturing industries combined across every region of the world. Employment by the sector in Europe – reaching 10 million in 2011 – exceeds automotive manufacturing by a factor of three; and in Asia, there are 7 times as many tourism jobs as auto manufacturing jobs and 5 times as many chemicals manufacturing jobs.

In every region of the world, travel and tourism directly sustains more jobs than the financial services, communications, and mining industries.

All sectors stimulate activity across the rest of the economy. In 18 out of the 20 economies analyzed, a new dollar in travel and tourism generates 20 percent more for the wider economy than the average of all sectors. Travel and tourism also outperforms the majority of the key sectors analyzed in terms of generating GDP across the entire economy.

As the 12th WTTC Global Summit in Tokyo kicks off, the research also highlights the importance of travel and tourism in Japan in a special report focusing on the country. The analysis shows that while the industry’s direct contribution to Japan’s GDP is three-quarters the size of the automotive manufacturing sector, travel and tourism directly generates over 80 percent more jobs.

David Scowsill, President and CEO, WTTC said: “These numbers are extremely significant. For over twenty years, the World Travel & Tourism Council has spearheaded global analysis of the economic impact of travel and tourism. WTTC has now taken this research one step further and assessed the role travel and tourism plays in the world economy in comparison to other economic sectors.
“The results are extraordinary. Within our industry we have always known that travel and tourism is a vast contributor to economic growth and job creation. These figures bear out just how significant – twice the size of the global automotive manufacturing sector; employing one-third more people than the global financial services industry.

“These figures prove beyond any doubt that it is time that the world’s governments really sit up and take notice of the travel and tourism industry. As a driver of economic recovery and growth in a very turbulent time, the industry stands apart for the sheer scale of its ability to create jobs and growth in every part of the globe.”

Bill Glenn, President, Global Corporate Payments and Global Business Travel, American Express, said: “American Express is delighted to be the sponsor of this important research, which will enable the travel and tourism industry to reposition its messaging by confirming its significance vis-a-vis other economic activities. Since founding WTTC in 1990, American Express has been supporting the development of data to enhance understanding of travel and tourism’s economic impact. This work takes the basic analysis of GDP and jobs one stage further and will be invaluable in creating a clear message for governments: that travel and tourism surpasses many other sectors as a driver of economic development.”