New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed China’s Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could reach CNY 11 trillion this year, just 5.2% short of pre-pandemic levels.
In 2019, before the pandemic struck, China’s Travel & Tourism sector’s contributed CNY 11.5 trillion to GDP (11.6% of the country’s economy).
However, in 2020 the pandemic had a major impact on the sector and Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the Chinese economy fell by a staggering 59.9%, to CNY 4.6 trillion.
Latest research from the global tourism body shows that as the national economy begins to recover, the contribution of the sector to the country’s economy and jobs could reach almost pre-pandemic levels this year.
WTTC research shows that if China, with more than 87% of its population already fully inoculated, begins to ease restrictions throughout the year, the sector’s contribution to GDP could reach CNY 11 trillion in 2022, just 5.2% behind pre-pandemic levels.
After a loss of more than 16 million jobs in 2020, when Travel & Tourism businesses in China suffered serious losses due to severe travel restrictions and complete border closures, most of these could be recovered if the country continues to focus on its Travel & Tourism sector and particularly reopening its borders to international visitors.
The sector could recover more than 14 million jobs to reach nearly 81 million jobs in 2022 – just 1.7% below 2019 levels.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “China is a critical player in the global Travel & Tourism sector. It has done well to drive domestic tourism during the pandemic, but international travel has come to a halt. The benefits to opening borders represent a boost in both economic wealth and jobs.
“Our latest research shows 2022 could bring a strong recovery for Travel & Tourism globally, with pent-up demand and vaccination rates driving the recovery of this economically boosting sector.
“Millions of livelihoods depend on a thriving Travel & Tourism sector, but there is still work ahead if we want to achieve a full economic recovery and bring back all the jobs that were lost.”
A look at the Asia Pacific region
WTTC’s research shows the forecast for the Asia Pacific region could be equally positive, with the region’s Travel & Tourism sector also approaching pre-pandemic levels this year.
According to the research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP could reach CNY 20 trillion (USD 2.9 trillion), near pre-pandemic levels, while employment could reach over 190 million jobs, surpassing 2019 figures and providing an additional five million jobs to the sector.
To reach close to pre-pandemic levels this year, WTTC says the Chinese government and governments around the world must continue focussing on the vaccine and booster rollout – allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely without the need for testing.
The global tourism body also urges governments to ditch the patchwork of restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions that allow travellers to prove their status in a fast, simple, and secure way.