South and Northeast Asia will be fastest growing, Europe slowest
Travel and tourism is set for a milestone year, with the industry’s direct contribution to the global economy expected to pass US$2 trillion in GDP and 100 million jobs. According to research by the World Travel&Tourism Council, the global travel and tourism industry will grow by 2.8% in 2012, faster than the global rate of economic growth, predicted to be 2.5%. When the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account, travel and tourism is forecast to contribute US$6.5 trillion to the global economy, up from US$6.3 trillion in 2011, and generate 260 million jobs – or 1 in 12 of all jobs on the planet.
There are big regional differences, however. South and Northeast Asia will be the fastest growing regions in 2012, growing by 6.7%, driven by countries like India and China where rising incomes will generate an increase in domestic tourism spending and a sharp upturn in capital investment, plus recovery in Japan.
North Africa is showing signs of recovery in 2012 with Morocco (8.3%) the star performer of this region. In the Middle East, the picture is mixed. Qatar will grow fastest at 13.2%, while Syria will likely see another dramatic fall, estimated at 20.5%. The mature economies of North America and Europe will struggle in 2012. North America, which saw a slight upturn in the USA’s economic situation at the end of 2011, should see growth of only 1.3% in travel and tourism direct GDP over the year.
The prospects in Europe in 2012 are precarious. Current forecasts suggest a 0.3% increase in travel and tourism direct GDP, but this will be propped up by newer economies such as Poland and, of course, Russia. A decline of 0.3% is expected across the EU. Consumer spending is set to tighten as austerity measures kick in, and there continues to be considerable uncertainty around the future of the Eurozone and peripheral economies of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
[pictured: Statue dedicated to the traveller, Oviedo, Spain]