WTTC: U.S. travel and tourism sector to cross $2.5 trillion mark in 2024

Prioritizing visa processing, border queues and staffing is crucial

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The travel and tourism sector is projected to contribute more than $2.5 trillion to the state exchequer in 2024, nearly 9 percent of the U.S. economy, and employ approximately 18.8 million people nationwide, representing one in nine American workers, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

THE TRAVEL AND tourism sector’s contribution to the state exchequer is set to surpass $2.5 trillion in 2024, 9 percent of the U.S. economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Furthermore, the sector will employ approximately 18.8 million people nationwide, with one in nine Americans working in travel and tourism.

However, focus on visa processing, border queues and staffing issues is essential ahead of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, the global tourism body recently said.

The WTTC’s 2024 Economic Impact Research found that the sector contributed approximately $2.36 trillion in 2023, registering a 7 percent growth, compared to the previous year’s contribution of $100 billion. Moreover, the sector’s jobs rose by 656,000 to reach 18 million across the country, breaking the previous record of 17.4 million.

Last year, domestic visitors spent $1.37 trillion, up by more than 9 percent from the previous peak in 2019. However, international visitor spending stood at $156.1 billion, which is more than a quarter behind the same 2019 peak.

“The U.S. is breaking all records in travel and tourism, employing 18 million people and boosting the U.S. economy by almost $2.4 trillion,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC’s president and CEO. “The U.S. government has supported travel and tourism, but international visitor spend is still below 2019 numbers. A focus on visa processing, queues at borders, and staffing would give the sector a vital lift in advance of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.”

The job sector has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with travel and tourism jobs accounting for an 11.2 percent share of the job market with a total of 18 million jobs.

“The travel and tourism sector not only significantly contributes to the generation of jobs but gives opportunities to young people and women of all skill levels,” Simson added.

Domestic visitor spending is anticipated to continue growing, to reach $1.43 trillion, beating the 2019 record by almost 14 percent, the WTTC said. However, international visitor spending is forecast to still be behind 2019 levels. International visitor spending is likely to remain more than $20 billion in 2024 behind its previous peak.

WTTC’s Hotel Sustainability Basics program now includes over 1,700 verified hotels spanning 70 countries, assisting hoteliers globally. Leading hotel groups from countries such as France, China, Mexico, India, Germany, South Africa, the Philippines and Norway have joined the initiative.