Tourism as an economic driver

United Nations World Tourism Organization report highlights global travel statistics.

Tourism is big business!  Data from the 2015 World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) report concurs:

  • Over the past six decades, tourism has become one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world.
  • Tourism has been labeled the key economic driver of socio-economic progress through the creation of jobs, new business, export revenues and infrastructure development.
  • International tourism receipts reached $1,245 billion worldwide in 2014, up from $1,197 billion in 2013.

Global travel is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 3 to 4 percent a year (UNWTO, 2015). To further substantiate that tourism is in fact a strong economic driver, for the first time, travel and tourism was publically recognized by G20 leaders at the 2012 G20 annual conference in Los Cabos, Mexico. The G20 Leaders Declaration says, in part:

“We recognize the role of travel and tourism as a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development, and while recognizing the sovereign right of States to control the entry of foreign nationals, we will work towards developing travel facilitation initiatives in support of job creation,quality work, poverty reduction and global growth.”

In Michigan, research commissioned by Travel Michigan and conducted by Tourism Economics (2015), shows the number of visitors to Michigan grew by 3.8% in 2014, reaching a record high of 113.4 million visitors. Those visitors spent $22.8 billion on lodging, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and transportation throughout the state, generating nearly $2.4 billion in state/local and $2.5 billion in federal tax revenue and accounting for more than 214,000 Michigan jobs. 

Tourism is an economic driver that continues to grow. Industry professionals and communities who want to tap into this economic driver may wish to also read the Michigan State University Extension article, Travel Trends – Opportunities and Challenges, which addresses travel and tourism trends for the coming years.

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