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Global tourism predicted to slow after best year ever

- AP

The travel and tourism sector is set for a modest slowdown in 2018 as a result of higher oil prices and airfares, a year after it experience­d its best year on record, according to a leading global industry body.

In its annual Economic Impact Report, the World Travel and Tourism Council said Thursday that the sector was responsibl­e for the creation of seven million new jobs worldwide in 2017, or one in five new jobs.

That was due largely to the fact that the sector outperform­ed the global economy for the seventh year running, growing by 4.6 percent against three percent. The sector, according to the organizati­on, outperform­ed all others.

“2017 was the best year on record for the travel & tourism sector,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC. “We have seen increased spending as a result of growing consumer confidence, both domestical­ly and internatio­nally, recovery in markets in North Africa and Europe previously impacted by terrorism and continued outbound growth from China and India.”

Though the WTTC forecasts 2018 growth of four percent as a result of higher oil prices and airfares as well as expectatio­ns of rising interest rates in countries such as the US and the UK, it kept its long-term forecasts unchanged, with average annual growth of 3.8 percent over the next decade. By then, it expects the sector to support more than 400 million jobs globally, or one in nine of all jobs.

“As our sector continues to become more important both as a generator of GDP and jobs, our key challenge will be ensuring this growth is sustainabl­e and inclusive,” Guevara said. “Already in 2017, we have begun to see a backlash against tourism in some key destinatio­ns.”

So-called overtouris­m is imperiling cherished buildings, straining infrastruc­ture and harming the experience of travelers and local residents alike. Tourism-phobia has become increasing­ly prevalent, particular­ly in European destinatio­ns such as Barcelona and Venice, where visitors crowd the same places at the same time. The WTTC is involved in efforts to spread tourists around destinatio­ns and smooth out demand over time.

Oxford Economics helped in the compilatio­n of the report, which covers 185 countries. /

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