NEW research from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the Asia Pacific gross domestic product (GDP) could see a year-on-year increase of 36.3 percent this year, ahead of the global average of 30.7 percent given the sector’s recovery rate.

The WTTC said this represents an increase of US$515 billion.

The data also revealed that the sector’s contribution to the Asia Pacific economy could see a similar year-on-year rise of 35.8 percent in 2022, representing an increase of $692 billion.

Domestic spending is expected to grow by 49 percent by the end of this year and experience a year-on-year rise of more than a quarter (25.5 percent) in 2022.

Moreover, international spending is also looking more positive in 2022.

Next year, international spend growth is set to rise by $156 billion (148 percent) providing a massive boost to the region’s economy.

In terms of employment, WTTC expects employment growth to rise by a marginal 0.4 percent in 2021 and 19.8 percent year-on-year increase, reaching more than 181 million jobs in 2022.

In 2019, the Asia Pacific travel and tourism sector supported more than 185 million jobs. When the pandemic hit last year, 34 million tourism jobs were lost when travel restrictions brought international mobility to an almost complete standstill, devastating livelihoods across the region and around the world.

Faster rate

“Our research clearly shows that while the global Travel & Tourism sector is beginning to recover, Asia Pacific is doing so at a much faster rate,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive officer.

“Many countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as the Philippines, host to our prestigious annual Global Summit next March, are not only ramping up their entire vaccination program, but also focusing on speeding up the vaccination rollout in key tourism destinations and front-line tourism sector workers in order to reboot their travel and tourism sectors,” added Simpson.

“With high vaccination rates around the region and a predicted rise in international and domestic spend next year, the outlook for both jobs and GDP is looking much more positive for next year.”

Vital measures

According to the research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and the rise in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if five vital measures are taken by governments around the world.

These measures include allowing fully vaccinated travelers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination. Second, the implementation of digital solutions which enable all travelers to easily prove their Covid status, in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world. Third, for safe international travel to fully restart, governments must recognize all vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization.

Fourth, continued support of the Covax/Unicef initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world and finally, the continued implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols, which will underpin customer confidence.