WTTC Sees 4.2% Dip for ’09 Travel/Tourism
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on the U.S. government to team up with the private sector to help promote the industry’s long-term sustainability, according to the Providence (R.I.) Business News.
“It is not the time to discourage travel in any way, whether for leisure or business,” said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC’s president and CEO, noting that “the last months have been increasingly challenging, and we haven’t seen the end of it yet.”
Based on a new study by the WTTC and Oxford Economics – full results from which are to be released March 12– the trade group projects that the travel and tourism industry this year will contribute 4.2% less to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) than it did in 2008. Meanwhile, employment in travel and tourism and related sectors is expected to decline by 4.4%, or more than 1 million positions, to about 13.8 million jobs nationwide.
Still, Baumgarten said, “this in no way undermines travel and tourism’s economic importance to the United States,” where the industry accounts for a larger share of GDP than in any other nation, “by a very wide margin.”
Worldwide, the industry employed about 225 million people and generated about 9.6% of the global domestic product in 2008. The U.S. sector generated nearly three times as great a share of the national GDP as Japan and China, “its closest competitors … and its dominant position will not be challenged over the next 10 years,” Baumgarten said.
“Despite the decline due to the present economic crisis, its contribution to total GDP will still be around 9.5% in 2009 – above the global average – and (the industry) should account for an estimated 9.7% of national employment, as against a 7.6% share worldwide,” the WTTC chief added.
Long-term Growth Projected
Over the next decade, the trade group projects that the U.S. travel and tourism economy will grow by 3.5% per year, to $2.36 trillion or 9.8% of anticipated national GDP in 2019. Travel and tourism-related employment is expected to grow 1.2% per year over the same period, to 15.6 million positions or 10.1% of total U.S. employment in 2019.
“Past experience has shown that travel and tourism is extremely resilient and should be recognized by governments as a means of stimulating growth and kick-starting the economy once the crisis eases,” Baumgarten said.
“Nevertheless, the industry needs a supportive framework from government to help weather the storm. Unlike other sectors of the economy, travel and tourism is not asking for a bailout from government, nor even handouts. But it is more critical than ever for the public and private sectors to work together in partnership to address the challenges and try to find solutions.
“It is not the time to discourage travel in any way, whether for leisure or business – and by this I also mean meetings, conferences, exhibitions and incentive trips. … in difficult times, companies are more than ever obliged to meet their customers, products have to be shown to potential buyers, and employees have to be motivated and rewarded for their efforts,” Baumgarten said. “We all have to pull in the same direction.”
The World Travel & Tourism Council is a trade group whose members include the CEOs of more than 100 of the world’s leading travel and tourism companies.