THE travel industry accounted for $41 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021, with domestic travel taking up some of the slack for the international tourism slump, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

At the opening briefing of the 21st WTTC Global Summit on Wednesday, WTTC President and Chief Executive Officer Julia Simpson said that the Philippine industry’s contribution grew 129.5% from the year-earlier $17.8 billion, when the industry was hammered by the pandemic.

The estimates were based on WTTC studies conducted with Oxford Economics and were released as an Economic Impact Report.

“Tourism to the Philippines is absolutely critical. This growth was primarily built on domestic travel,” Ms. Simpson said.

According to Ms. Simpson, the travel industry accounted for 10.4% of GDP in 2021, against 4.8% in 2020.

She said employment in the industry rose 20.5% to 7.8 million in 2021.

“(The result is) a massive employment boost for the sector, leading to the recovery of 1.3 million more jobs compared to the previous year. Our expert analysis shows that the economy has turned a corner and is firmly on the road to recovery,” Ms. Simpson said.

“We forecast an average annual growth rate of 6.7% over the next 10 years here in the Philippines, exceeding the Philippines’ expected overall economic average growth rate of 5.6%,” Ms. Simpson said.

“We are also forecasting good news on the employment front. Employment will grow annually by an average of 3% over the next 10 years, generating 2.9 million new jobs which will account for 21.5% of all jobs in the Philippines,” she added.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said signs of recovery are apparent in the global travel industry as more countries open their borders.

“In the nearly two years where international travel was put on hold, the Philippines has been busy preparing for the day when our country would be open to the world. We have put in place guidelines that will ensure the safety of our guests, our tourism work force, and our community,” Ms. Puyat said.

“Ultimately, through this summit, we hope to raise awareness of the full economic and social impact of travel and tourism. We also want to assure everyone, especially our foreign guests, that your safety and well-being is our priority,” she added.

The Philippines began accepting foreign visitors from nationals entitled to visa-free entry on Feb. 10. Since April 1, borders have opened to all nationals. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave