Global travel industry seen as 'resilient' despite slowing growth

BERLIN: The global travel industry should expand by 4 per cent this year despite slowing economic growth in key areas such as China and Europe, but a no-deal Brexit could wipe out 700,000 travel-related jobs, a top industry association said on Tuesday.

The travel and tourism sector grew 3.9 per cent to US$8.8 trillion (S$12 trillion) in 2018, accounting for 10.5 per cent of global gross domestic product, and outpacing global GDP growth of 3.2 per cent, said Ms Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Based on data from 185 countries, the group forecasts steady growth of 4 per cent this year, given continued demand from China, the second largest travel and tourism market behind the US, and other countries in Asia.

"Every crisis impacts the numbers, but this sector is very resilient," Ms Guevara said.

She noted that expansion in the travel and tourism sector traditionally outpaced global GDP growth.

Britain and the US were two of a few countries in which travel and tourism underperformed economic growth, she said.

Ms Guevara cited uncertainty about Britain's departure from the European Union and what she called the "non-welcoming message" being sent out by US President Donald Trump.

Travel and tourism's contribution to Britain's gross domestic product grew by just 1 percent in 2018, while overall GDP expanded 1.4 per cent.

The sector accounted for $311 billion in GDP in 2018, or about 11 percent of overall GDP. - REUTERS