By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer
Despite economic and political challenges across the globe, the travel and tourism industry remains as a key sector for economic development and job creation. The industry has experienced a steady growth in the past years, contributing around seven trillion US dollars to the global economy each year.
According to a report by one of the largest professional services networks in the world, Deloitte, the global travel industry gross bookings in 2017 reached up to $1.6 trillion, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world. The industry now accounts for 10.2% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
Deloitte noted that the number of international travel departures has more than doubled from roughly 600 million to 1.3 billion over the past two decades. With its ancient history and rich culture, Europe receives the most international tourist arrivals, followed by the Asia-Pacific region.
For the next 10 years, South Asia is expected to be the fastest growing world region with expected average annual direct travel and tourism GDP growth of 6.7%, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). It is followed by Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, where average annual growth of 5.9% and 5.7% are expected, respectively.
Globally, the travel and tourism industry’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to grow at an average of 3.9% per year over the next 10 years, the WTTC says. It is expected to support more than 380 million jobs, which equates to one in nine of all jobs in the world. The sector is expected to outperform the global economy throughout the forecast period and increase its share of global economic activity in the years to come.
In the Philippines, the travel and tourism industry is one of the major contributors to the economy. With over 7,100 islands, the archipelago boasts a rich biodiversity, breathtaking attractions, and colorful historical and cultural heritage that attract millions of foreign tourists each year.
In the latest report released by the Department of Tourism (DoT), foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 reached 6,620,908, an 11% higher from the previous year’s arrival of 5,967,005. South Korea remained as the top tourist market for the country, posting 1,607,821 arrivals; followed by China with 968,447, and the United States with 957,813.
In the previous years, the contribution of the travel and tourism industry to the country’s total GDP has been steadily rising. From around 7.8% in 2014, it grew at 8.2% in 2015 and 8.6% in 2016. The share of employment in tourism industries to total employment in the country was recorded at 12.5%, 12.7% and 12.8% in 2014 to 2016, respectively.
To further boost the country’s tourist arrivals, the DoT has been conducting various marketing strategies and securing agreements with international institutions that help promote the country. Also, the agency is supporting travel and tourism events that create opportunities for Philippine tourism to expand.
The annual Travel Tour Expo (TTE), organized by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), is one of these. TTE is the biggest travel and tourism event in the country that extensively brings together industry stakeholders in one venue to showcase their discounted package deals. TTE allows exhibitors to expand their networks and grow their businesses and gives Filipinos the best opportunity to plan their trips either as individual or group.
This year, the annual event is happening today until Sunday, Feb. 11, at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, accommodating a record high of 400 exhibitors including 94 travel agencies with expected visitors of more than 140,000.
The PTAA is also bringing back the International Travel Trade Expo (iTTE), the business-to-business component of TTE, where there will be more than 250 travel agencies and 80 companies from 16 countries participating as buyers and sellers, respectively. The iTTE gives travel agencies the opportunity to expand their respective outbound products and services by networking and starting partnerships with their foreign counterparts.
After these activities, the PTAA sets to hold its regular trainings and seminars for its members and industry players and planned to keep in touch with government agencies that impact the country’s travel and tourism industry.