The sector is a major driver of economic development, global connectivity and the livelihood of some of the populations and businesses most vulnerable to, and hard hit by, the pandemic. In 2019, T&T’s direct, indirect and induced GDP accounted for about 10% of global GDP. For many emerging economies, T&T is a major source of export revenue, foreign exchange earnings and investment. Research has shown that T&T growth can support social progress and create opportunities and well-being for communities, so supporting travel and tourism development and recovery will be critical.
In the shorter term, challenges such as reduced capacity, geopolitical tensions and labour shortages are slowing recovery. However, opportunities have been created in markets such as domestic and nature-based tourism, the rise of digital nomads and “bleisure” travel – the addition of leisure activities to business travel. Many countries have provided incentives to boost domestic tourism. For example, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong SAR, China, have rolled out programmes that provide discounts, coupons and subsidies for domestic travel. The trends towards more rural and nature-based tourism offer an opportunity for less-developed economies to harness the benefits of travel and tourism given that the distribution and quality of natural assets are less tied to performance in economic development, with natural resources being one of the few pillars where non-high income economies typically outperform high-income countries. The travel and tourism sector stakeholders’ ability to adapt under these conditions highlights its capacity for adaptation and flexibility.
Amid the current challenges, shifting demand dynamics and future opportunities and risks, a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient travel and tourism sector can be – and needs to be – built, says the publication. But this calls for thoughtful and effective consideration. It also requires leveraging development drivers and strategies. This can be done by: restoring and accelerating international openness and consumer confidence through, for example, improved health and security; building favourable and inclusive labour, business and socioeconomic conditions; focusing more on environmental sustainability; strengthening the management of tourism demand and impact; and investing in digital technology.