Global tourism grew by 3.3% in 2016 despite ongoing terror threats around the world, says a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
For the sixth year in a row, the report says, tourism's growth outpaced that of the global economy, contributing $7.6 trillion to global GDP and supporting 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. The new data shows that in countries where attacks have happened, visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign visitors in a country, has suffered.
In Europe, there were contractions in inbound tourism spending: Belgium (-4.4%), France (-7.3%) and Turkey (-22%) following attacks in 2016. In North Africa, tourism visitor exports declined again in 2016 (-16%). Egypt in particular, the report says, is suffering from the impact of terrorism activity, followed by continued travel advisories. Inbound visitor spending continued to contract in the country, and the country’s Travel & Tourism GDP is now 50% below the 2008 peak level.
The research shows that overall Travel & Tourism remains resilient, as consumers continue to travel but they are switching to destinations that are perceived to be "safer". Within Europe, Bulgaria and Cyprus grew noticeably in 2016 (12.4% and 17.1% respectively), with Portugal and Spain showing robust growth (4.6% and 5.2%). Emerging destinations Slovakia, Poland and Hungary also showed strong performance (13.2%, 8.6% and 6.8%, respectively).
David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said: “Travel & Tourism is a resilient sector. People will not stop traveling, despite the security threats in the world. Nevertheless, destinations must focus on security, as we operate in a new ‘normal’ where the constant threat of terrorism exists. WTTC calls on governments to work on four issues when preparing for crises: Integrate private sector tourism companies into all security planning; Implement electronic visas to enhance security, using biometrics and technology, Create crisis response plans, which encompass a cohesive media response; and Increase intelligence sharing across borders, as terrorists do not respect borders."
He added: "Governments must plan for handling crises. Travelers make decisions based on their perception of safety in a country. The reality is that the statistical likelihood of being caught in a terror attack while traveling is negligible."