Global tourism rebounds despite economic headwinds

Total emissions in the sector were only 8.1% in 2019 globally
Global tourism rebounds despite economic headwinds
Image from the event

Global travel and tourism executives have urged governments around the world to prioritize the industry, which is expected to outperform global economic growth and create millions of jobs over the next decade, as geopolitical threats and recession fears weigh on the “fragile” global economy.

This position was launched by the President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Julia Simpson at the twenty-second World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) World Summit, held in Riyadh under the theme “Travelling for a Better Future”. It is the largest of its kind in the history of the Council’s summits, with more than three thousand participants, attended by 57 ministers of tourism from countries around the world, and will continue until the first of December 2022.

Global tourism faces significant challenges today, including high inflation, geopolitical insecurity, the climate emergency, and a resurgence of COVID in China.

But a survey by the World Travel & Tourism Council showed that around 63 percent of those surveyed said they were planning a leisure trip in the next 12 months, suggesting that international travel demand is now at its highest level since the start of the pandemic.

“The travel and tourism sector needs to be taken more seriously by governments, which have often neglected the industry, as evidenced by the chaotic response to safely reopening international borders during the Covid pandemic,” Simpson said.

The travel and tourism sector is expected to grow by 5.8 percent annually over the next ten years, ahead of global GDP growth of 2.7 percent annually, and to contribute to the creation of 126 million new jobs by 2032, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Council also expects the global tourism and travel sector to regain during the next year pre-Corona pandemic levels, knowing that during the 11 months of this year it achieved about $8.7 trillion, compared to $9 trillion in 2019.

International tourism also witnessed a strong recovery in the first five months of this year, with about 250 million tourists, compared to 77 million for the same period in 2021, which means that the sector recovered by 46 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Based on the council’s statements, Simpson addressed governments around the world, saying: “Take travel and tourism seriously. Because we can help you. Today’s bookings are very strong, the demand for travel is outstripping supply, and we have high jobs and record savings, waiting for China to reopen. But too often our sector has been neglected.” 

Tourism & Environment


During the summit, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) unveiled environmental and social research on the climate footprint of the global travel and tourism industry. Environmental and social research covers 185 countries on all continents of the world and is the first of its kind at the international level, and its data will be updated annually.

Previous estimates suggested that the global travel and tourism sector was responsible for up to 11 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, research by the World Travel & Tourism Council showed that in 2019 the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions were just 8.1 percent globally.

The disparity between the sector’s continued economic growth and the continued decline in its climate footprint between 2010 and 2019 is evidence that the travel and tourism sector has managed to achieve economic growth completely separate from greenhouse gas emissions.

These emissions have continued to decline continuously since 2010 as a result of technological developments, as well as the introduction of a number of energy efficiency measures into activities within the sector. Between 2010 and 2019, the GDP of the travel and tourism sector grew at a rate of 4.3 percent per year, while its environmental impact increased by only 2.4 percent.

“Travel and tourism are making great strides to decarbonize, but governments must set the framework. We need a big focus on increasing the production of sustainable aviation fuel with government incentives. The technology is there. We also need greater use of renewable energy in our national grids,” Simpson said.

“Every decision, every change, will lead to a better and brighter future for all.”

Al-Falih: Tourism affects all sectors of the economy


Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said tourism affects all sectors of the economy.

“We should not measure it only by the total number of a percentage of GDP. We saw during the pandemic that if the sector loses, everyone loses… And the indirect effect is completely unbelievable. Tourism is part of economic diversification and we are investing in it for the common good.”

During the summit, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib announced the signing of 50 agreements and memorandums of understanding between Saudi Arabia and other parties exceeding $50 billion.

“As part of the Saudi Green Initiative, we launched more than 60 initiatives last year to do so. The first wave of initiatives represents more than $186 billion in investments in the green economy,” Khatib said.

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