The travel and tourism sector has enormous potential to create new economic opportunities and foster development, and the G20 New Delhi Summit is an opportunity for leaders to recommit to a greener, more inclusive future for the industry
The G20’s New Delhi Summit offers an opportunity to throw a spotlight on the highly valuable travel and tourism sector. The World Travel and Tourism Council’s research, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, shows that in a normal year, one in ten jobs on the planet are in the travel sector and it contributes one in ten dollars to the global economy.
In 2022, before China reopened, the contribution of the travel and tourism sector to global gross domestic product grew by 22%, meaning the sector is now worth $7.7 trillion. That was also a good year for employment. The global travel and tourism sector created 21.6 million new jobs, bringing the total to 295 million. This means that in 2022, our sector supported 1 in 11 of all jobs worldwide.
This year we unveiled our groundbreaking Environmental and Social Research, produced in partnership with the Saudi Arabia–based Sustainable Global Tourism Center. This covers 185 countries and, for the first time, accurately reports and tracks the impact of industries within the sector from environmental and social perspectives as well as in the context of the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. We are glad to be sharing this comparable data with governments around the world to inform their decision-making and support further progress.
G20 tourism public-private dialogue
On 21 June in Goa, as part of the G20 tourism ministers’ programme, WTTC, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization and India’s Ministry of Tourism, hosted the Public Private Dialogue: Importance of Travel and Tourism to the G20 Economies. The session discussed critical issues challenging the industry and identified opportunities for fostering deeper public-private partnerships.
I was delighted to address the ministers and the private sector, to emphasise tourism’s immense contribution to the global economy. The sector has proven to be an investment magnet for both public and private sectors, driving socio-economic development in various countries. However, there are challenges that need to be addressed, including visa processing, sustainability, staff shortages and youth employment in the sector.
The dialogue participants discussed a number of important factors relevant to some of these challenges, including youth and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; digitalisation; responsible and ethical tourism; and a resilient global economy.
Empowering youth and MSMEs
The importance of empowering youth and supporting MSMEs in the tourism sector was an overarching theme. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the industry, affecting jobs and livelihoods. Participants expressed their commitment to rebuilding the sector through youth engagement and by attracting local talent. Skills development and training programmes were identified as essential for improving the workforce’s quality and addressing staff shortages. Supporting MSMEs is equally vital, as these enterprises are critical in driving economic growth and fostering community development.
There is a need for increased digitalisation within the tourism sector. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital solutions, from contactless payments to virtual experiences, and this trend will likely persist. Embracing technology can not only enhance the traveller’s experience but can also streamline operations, improve connectivity and create new opportunities for businesses.
Promoting responsible and ethical tourism
The emphasis on responsible and ethical tourism remained steadfast. The sector must prioritise responsible practices, respect local cultures and promote community engagement. Participants recognised the significance of creating connections with nature and fostering cross-cultural ties with other countries. Humility and kindness were deemed essential values to drive positive change within the industry.
Building a resilient global economy
The session concluded with a call for cooperation on various fronts. Gender diversity and inclusion in the tourism workforce were stressed as pivotal factors in driving economic growth and social progress. Aligning with the Paris Agreement on climate change was highlighted as a shared responsibility for combating global environmental challenges. A resilient global economy can be achieved through concerted efforts and collaboration among G20 members.
Overall, the Public Private Dialogue underlined, once again, the potential of the travel and tourism sector to foster socio-economic development and create opportunities for diverse stakeholders. Enhancing collaboration among governments, businesses and international organisations will pave the way for transformative solutions. The G20 New Delhi Summit serves as a platform for leaders to reinforce their commitment to forging a greener, more inclusive and prosperous future for the tourism industry and beyond.