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Broad Economic Benefit of Travel

While many individuals may think about travel in the narrower context of our own personal or professional experiences, it is worth noting that our broader society also benefits from the travel industey and travel promotion – e.g. economic output and job creation etc. There are many important organizations dedicated to increasing travel and we spotlight three of them below with some relevant details and statistics.

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As a leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. The UNWTO has 157 countries, 6 Associate Members and 500 Affiliate Members. NOTE: The US is currently not a member country of the UNWTO.

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) works to raise awareness of Travel & Tourism and brings together major players in Travel & Tourism (airlines, hotels, cruise, car rental, travel agencies, tour operators, GDS, and technology) to speak with one voice to governments and international bodies. The council consists of the CEOs of 140+ leading Travel & Tourism companies and advocates for public / private partnerships benefitting local, regional and national stakeholders ensuring: Governments recognize Travel & Tourism as a top priority, Businesses balance economics with people, culture & environment and everyone shares in the pursuit of long-term growth and prosperity.

According to the WTTC, Travel and Tourism: 

  • Grew 3.3% in 2016 and outpaced the global economy (+2.5%) for the 6th straight year 
  • Supports 292 million jobs - 1 out 10 jobs worldwide - and is expected to support over 380 million jobs by 2027
  • Contributes $7.6 trillion (or approximately 10.2%) of global GDP
  • For more data, see the WTTC’s Travel and Tourism: Economic Impact 2017 and the Global Report


U.S. Travel Association

The U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing the U.S. travel industry - e.g. transportation, lodging, retail, recreation, entertainment and foodservice - across all segments – e.g. meetings, leisure, business, incentive and trade shows. U.S. Travel prioritizes high-impact issues and policies that advance and elevate the industry on the national level. It also identifies the industry’s biggest opportunities and challenges and develops the messages and actions to drive growth. Key initiatives include Project: Time Off (disrupting the vacation stigma) and Power of Travel Coalition (grassroots project to strengthen travel community).  

According to US Travel: 

  • $2.1 trillion in economic output is generated by domestic and international travelers within and to the U.S. 
  • 15.1 million jobs are supported by travel expenditures - i.e. 1 in 9 U.S. jobs depend on travel and tourism
  • $147.9 billion in tax revenue is generated by travel spending for federal, state and local governments
  • U.S. Travel Exports total $246 billion, helping to generate a $98 billion travel trade surplus
  • For more data, see the US Travel Answer Sheet, US Travel/Tourism Overview and the World Travel Fact Sheet

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