Don’t let recent news about dips in tourism revenues fool you; two separate studies released this week indicate that worldwide travel is booming and is about to get even better.
The first study, “Travel & Tourism Global Economic Impact & Issues 2017” from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), indicated tourism generated more than $7.3 billion worldwide in 2016—more than 10 percent of the global gross domestic product.
The document also noted that tourism generated roughly 292 million jobs in 2016, a number that basically accounts for one out of every 10 jobs worldwide. This is an increase of 3.3 percent over the statistics for 2015, and it represents the sixth consecutive year that tourism has had a significant impact on job growth around the world.
On a regional level, the WTTC study said Southeast Asia’s tourism industry grew the fastest in 2016, at a clip of 8.3 percent. Oceania (4.4 percent) and the Caribbean (3.2 percent) rounded out the top three.
Looking forward, the WTTC document predicted 3.8 percent growth for the travel and tourism industries in 2017. The study also noted the WTTC expects more than 11 percent of the world’s GDP to be connected to the tourism industry by 2027.
According to the second study, domestic airlines are experiencing some serious growth right now as well.
That document, from the trade group Airlines for America, indicates the largest domestic carriers expect a record number of passengers to travel between March 1 and April 30 of this year, 145 million in all.
An informative article about the study in USA Today said this total—an average of more than 2.4 million passengers per day—would vastly eclipse the industry’s previous high watermark and would represent a 4 percent increase from the roughly 140 million travelers who flew during the same two-month period in 2016.
The article cited Airlines for America statistics that domestic carriers are adding 110,000 seats per day to accommodate an additional 89,000 passengers.
The bottom line: Reports of a tough year for travel may be greatly exaggerated.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.