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WTTC: US tourism sector largest in the world, but losing share

las vegasThe United States’ tourism sector continues to be the largest in the world, according to new research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Travel & Tourism generated US$1.5 trillion for the US economy in 2017, more than any other country in the world. US tourism ranks no 1 in the world for GDP contribution, and visitor exports (international tourism spend in the country).

In 2017, Travel & Tourism supported nearly 14 million jobs and over US$200 billion in exports.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of WTTC, said “The US has long been a world leader in tourism and remains in the no 1 spot for another year.  Travel & Tourism is vital for the US economy, generating economic growth, employment and exports. Our research shows that Travel & Tourism directly supports nearly twice as many jobs as the banking sector, eight times more than the mining sector, and six times more than the automotive manufacturing sector. The tourism sector is the best partner the US can have in creating new jobs”

The data also shows that tourism in the US grew by 2.3% in 2017. This compares to 9.8% growth in China, 6.2% in the United Kingdom, 7% in Spain, and 5.5% in Canada.  Global tourism growth outpaced the economy for the seventh year running, growing at 4.6% compared to economy growth of 3%, and significantly outpaced economy growth in many countries. Travel & Tourism grew four times faster than the wider economy in the UK, and twice as fast in Japan and Spain, for example.

However, in the US Travel & Tourism equalled total economy growth.  

Guevara continued “The data suggests that the US is not getting its fair share, as other countries are increasing their tourism at a faster rate.  This means there is a huge opportunity for the US to grow tourism to increase jobs and exports.  The government is ideally placed to tap into this opportunity, by promoting the country so that visitors know that the US is open and welcoming, while being secure.

“The US has a strong foundation with the private sector working well with government, which we applaud and continue to encourage. Its Visa Waiver is being replicated in other countries, so should be protected at home. And the US Global Entry scheme is one of the best in the world - its expansion would encourage visitors, especially high spending business and regular travellers.

Security and travel facilitation will be a focus at the upcoming WTTC Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 18-19 April 2018. The event will be livestreamed in full – see for more details.

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