Phot Credit: Michele Norton

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has estimated that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the global economy could reach $8.6 trillion in 2022, just 6.4% behind pre-pandemic levels. In 2019 the sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion, but there was a drop of 49.1% the following year due to the pandemic.

New research shows the sector could recover to near-pre-pandemic levels this year if the vaccine and booster rollout “continue at pace,” and travel restrictions are eased around the world. The sector could also create 58 million additional jobs this year, which is just 1% below pre-pandemic levels and an increase of 21.5% over 2020.

“As people start traveling again, governments must implement simplified rules, including the use of digital solutions,” WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson said. “Travel of the future should be contactless while guaranteeing safety.”

The WTTC is urging governments to allow fully vaccinated travelers to “move freely without the need for testing,” to “ditch the patchwork of restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions that allow travelers to prove their status in a fast, simple and secure way.”

Meanwhile, “Bleisure” – which blends personal getaways with remote work – continues to be a growth area for the travel industry. Such excursions have been on the rise as the spread of the omicron variant delayed the return to offices, especially among larger employers. The share of business trips that include a weekend has increased 23% since 2019, according to corporate travel manager TripActions Inc.

Even as Big Business remains cautious about travel for work, domestic trips taken by employees of small- and medium-sized enterprises have rebounded sharply recently – with more now including added time for leisure. Bleisure travelers are increasingly flying on Thursdays, joining business passengers who historically have made that the biggest travel day of the week.

Sources: Business Traveller, Washington Post

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