A study released on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland bolsters optimism about the world travel market as results indicated that international travel is considered even more important than the Internet, TV/movies, or political diplomacy at stimulating the economy and breaking down cultural barriers.
The independent study was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Marriott International Inc., Bethesda, Maryland and included the views of 1,100 global travelers and opinion leaders from eight countries, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A full 96% of respondents, who ranged in age from under 35 to over 50 years old, believed that travel and tourism stimulates the economy, while 77% felt that “the more people experience other countries and cultures, the more peace will spread.”
“I believe we are entering a ‘golden age of travel,’ where opportunities to do business and travel abroad are opening up like never before,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s CEO-elect and current president, pointing to the number of international arrivals, which have doubled in the last 10 years and will reach 1 billion in 2012 (UN World Tourism Organization).
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the industry is predicted to account for an extra 69 million net jobs by 2021, including direct, indirect and induced employment — almost 80% of which will be in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
WTTC estimates that total contributions of travel and tourism to the global gross domestic product are forecast to rise by 4.2% annually to US$9.226 trillion by 2021. Visitor exports, or the amount visitors spend in a given foreign country, will increase 6.6% annually through 2021, rising to US$1.789 billion by 2021. As an example, in New York City alone, Brazilians spent a total of US$1.63 billion, topping the $1.42 billion spent by travelers from the U.K., the US$1.27 billion spent by Canadians and the $1.1 billion spent by Italians, according to NYC & Co., the city’s tourism board.
“Bringing down barriers to travel creates jobs and prosperity and we applaud President Obama’s announcement to reform U.S. visa and entry systems to welcome more international visitors,” said Sorenson.