The World Economic Forum (WEF) released today its latest travel and tourism study, revealing that the sector is showing signs of recovery in many parts of the world after being hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Japan, the US, Spain, France, and Germany are at the top of the list.
The Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021: Rebuilding for a Sustainable and Resilient Future, ranks 117 economies on a range of factors that are crucial to the development, sustainability, and resiliency of their travel and tourism industry, which in turn contributes to economic and social development.
“Covid shutdowns have re-emphasized the important contribution travel and tourism make to many economies around the world,” said Lauren Uppink, Head of Aviation, Travel, and Tourism at the World Economic Forum. “As the world emerges from the pandemic, economies must invest in building a strong and resilient environment to deliver the travel and tourism experience and services for many decades to come.”
While overall international tourism and business travel are still below pre-pandemic levels, the sector recovery has been bolstered by greater vaccination rates, a return to more open travel, and growing demand for domestic and nature-based tourism. Many businesses and destinations have adapted to these shifting demand dynamics.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the difference in international tourist arrivals between just January 2021 and January 2022 is greater than arrivals growth in all of 2021.
As the sector slowly recovers from the global health crisis – especially as vaccines become more available and health restrictions lifted – it will be important for the travel and tourism sector to take steps that embed long-term inclusivity, sustainability, and resilience as it continues to face evolving challenges and risks according to the statement.
The sector is facing many hurdles with its recovery
Despite positive trends, the travel and tourism sector is still facing many hurdles in its recovery. This includes uneven vaccine distribution, capacity constraints, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and more.
“Government, business, and civil society leaders can address barriers to recovery by looking at the different factors that can support the long-term development and resiliency of their respective travel and tourism economies,” added Uppink. “This will require decision-makers to restore consumer confidence and international openness by prioritizing such things as enhanced health and security measures, encouraging inclusive labor practices, improving environmental sustainability, and investing in digital technology.”
Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021 results
In this year’s index, Japan takes the top spot followed by the US, Spain, France, and Germany rounding out the top five. Other than the US, the top-10 scoring economies are high-income economies in Europe or Asia-Pacific. After top-ranking Japan, regional economies Australia and Singapore come in seventh and ninth, respectively. Italy joined the top 10 (up from 12th in 2019) in 2021, while Canada slid from 10th to 13th