shopping in usa

Shopping and Traveling: U.S. Leads the Retail Tourism Sector, Says WTTC

The glamour of Las Vegas was the backdrop to the revelation from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) that the U.S. continues to be the top destination for shopping enthusiasts.

WTTC President & CEO, Julia Simpson, announced during Virtuoso Travel Week that “Retail tourism is a thriving market segment of the Travel & Tourism sector in the U.S.”

An upcoming report, a collaboration between WTTC, the Hospitality and Tourism Research Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and The Bicester Collection, set to be unveiled in Barcelona, offers a deep dive into the retail tourism market. With an impressive worth of US$178.2 billion in 2019, retail tourism can account for over 15% of the Travel & Tourism sector in some destinations.

Given its overlooked status in research, the new WTTC report aims to provide unparalleled insights. From exploring sustainable retail trends to spotlighting out-of-town shopping locations, the study offers a comprehensive view of retail tourism. And with the U.S. contributing a massive US$34.7 billion to global retail tourism GDP in 2019, it’s clear where shoppers are heading.

Despite the pandemic’s trials, the U.S. held on to its top spot in the retail tourism sector, posting earnings of US$17.5 billion in 2020 and a promising US$23.9 billion in 2021.

Speaking on the matter, Simpson stated, “The pandemic severely affected both the travel and retail sectors, but as the world starts to move again, we’re seeing the re-emergence of the retail journey. The U.S.’s dominant position highlights retail tourism’s crucial role in the country’s Travel & Tourism industry.”

Tax-free shopping incentives play a vital role in boosting tourism revenues. Parisian retailers, for instance, experienced a boom after France introduced a three-day VAT rebate for certain purchases. The decision boosted visits to The Bicester Collection in Paris, especially as the UK phased out its VAT refund scheme.

With contributions from industry leaders and researchers, the forthcoming WTTC report offers an all-encompassing look at the future of retail tourism, emphasizing the sector’s potential for sustainable growth.

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