Myanmar, Iraq and Georgia are seeing biggest travel and tourism gains, but China, USA and India reign in power ranking

The new Travel & Tourism Power and Performance Report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) highlights China, USA and India as the largest travel and tourism superpowers, but delivers some interesting insights on those nations that have been most successful in growing their tourism sectors over the past seven years.


Summary:

  • New Travel & Tourism Power and Performance Report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) highlights world’s leading and developing tourism nations;
  • The study combines growth over the past seven years in tourism’s contribution to GDP, international visitor spend, domestic tourism spend and capital investment;
  • The sector contributes 10.4% of the world’s GDP and generates 313 million global jobs, or 9.9% of total employment in 2017.
  • China, USA, India, Mexico and the UK head ‘Power’ ranking, while Myanmar, Iraq, Georgia, Rwanda and Iceland lead ‘Performance’ ranking.

The study combines growth over the past seven years in tourism’s contribution to GDP, international visitor spend, domestic tourism spend and capital investment, a sector that contributes 10.4% of the world’s GDP and generates 313 million global jobs, or 9.9% of total employment in 2017. Last year was one of the strongest years of GDP growth in a decade with robust consumer spending worldwide. This global growth transferred again into travel and tourism, with WTTC acknowledging that the sector’s direct growth of +4.6% outpaced the global economy for the seventh successive year.

Using WTTC’s annual economic impact data, this new report ranks the performance of 185 countries over the last seven-year period, combining four indicators: contribution of travel and tourism to GDP, international visitor spend, domestic tourism spend and capital investment in tourism.

This analysis allows shows performance over the medium term, helping to smooth out some of the year-on-year volatility that countries often face, while the inclusion of domestic spend and investment allows for a more rounded measure of performance and prioritisation than the more usual measures of GDP contribution and international spend.

The report includes two rankings. The ‘Power’ ranking looks at those countries whose travel and tourism has grown most in absolute terms over the past seven years. These countries are those which are powering travel and tourism growth and the top ten comprises… China, USA, India, Mexico, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, Australia and United Arab Emirates.

CHART – The WTTC Power ranking is based on absolute growth as seen between 2011 and 2017 for all four of its main travel and tourism indicatorsSource: World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Travel & Tourism Power and Performance Report

In terms of power growth rankings, the largest countries dominate in the top spots. Nine G20 countries plus Spain and the UAE appear in the top 10 positions. With no surprise, China took the first place, driven by the strongest absolute growth out of all countries in three indicators – GDP growth, domestic spending and investment growth. It only failed to climb to the top position in visitor exports, where it is ranked third.

The USA (with the largest total travel and tourism GDP) and India comfortably took the second and third place. Mexico, a well-established travel and tourism economy, came fourth, driven by a strong performance across all four indicators. Mexico’s strong growth in  infrastructure development has been matched by a rapid growth in international tourist arrivals and spending over the last seven years.

It is the ‘Performance’ ranking, which looks at those countries whose travel and tourism has grown most quickly in percentage terms over the past seven years, that we see the emerging tourism markets in the world during the same period. These are those countries that are maximising the opportunity of tourism to drive economic development and the top ten comprises… Myanmar, Iraq, Georgia, Rwanda, Iceland, Nicaragua, Qatar, Congo, Armenia and Ivory Coast.

CHART – The WTTC Power ranking is based on compound average annual growth as seen between 2011 and 2017 for all four of its main travel and tourism indicatorsSource: World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Travel & Tourism Power and Performance Report

Unlike the power growth rankings, performance rankings are dominated by smaller emerging economies. Myanmar comfortably leads the pack, driven by the top rankings in total travel and tourism GDP growth and visitor exports but also capital investment, where it placed second.

Iraq’s second position may come as a surprise and is attributable to subsiding conflict and the strongest annual growth in domestic spending out of all countries, says the report. Third place was taken by Georgia, driven by strong growth in travel and tourism GDP and international tourist spending. Rwanda ranks fourth for similar reasons to Iraq – subsiding conflict and strong growth in spending by domestic tourists. Iceland is the highest-ranking developed country, taking the fifth spot due to a strong performance in travel and tourism capital investment and visitor exports.

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