© . FILE PHOTO: Tourists pose on parked “Shikaras” or boats on the shores of Dal Lake in Srinagar, April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Danish Ismail
By Neil Jerome Morales MANILA () – The global travel and tourism sectors are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 and grow at a pace that will outpace global gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the World said. Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said Thursday. The industry is expected to achieve an annual average growth rate of 5.8% from 2022 to 2032 versus the 2.7% increase in global GDP, and create 126 million new jobs, WTTC said in a report released at the conference of the industry group in Manila. In 2019, tourism accounted for a tenth of global GDP and jobs, but the coronavirus pandemic decimated the $9.6 trillion industry, halved its output value and left 62 million people out of work. “The recovery will be so great that it will recover really vigorously. This, of course, depends on China’s reopening,” said WTTC President Julia Simpson, calling on all governments to reopen borders. China’s “zero COVID” policy and ongoing lockdowns have disrupted global trade and domestic and international travel. The GDP of the travel and tourism sector will reach $8.35 trillion this year and $9.6 trillion in 2023, a return to pre-pandemic levels. According to the WTTC, tourism jobs are expected to recover to 300 million this year and 324 million by 2023, close to 333 million in 2019. In Asia-Pacific alone, the hospitality industry’s GDP is likely to reach $3.4 trillion by 2023. reaching more than the $3.3 trillion it saw in 2019, it said. Compared to North America and Europe, travel in Asia-Pacific has lagged behind due to strict border restrictions in many countries. In Southeast Asia, travelers are now back on the plane as the rules for entering the region and the quarantine rules for COVID-19 are lifted. But a full recovery will be slow, industry members say.