The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) reveals China’s Travel & Tourism sector’s GDP contribution is forecast to grow more than 150 per cent this year.
The sector is set to contribute CNY 9.9trn to the economy this year, edging closer to the 2019 pre-pandemic high of CNY 12.27trn.
Despite the effects of the pandemic spanning into 2022 in China, WTTC is forecasting for the sector to create almost 11.5mn jobs this year, recovering one in two of the jobs lost to reach 74.7mn. This means around one in 10 workers in China, are directly or indirectly employed in the Travel & Tourism sector.
While the sector is still shy of 7.9mn jobs to reach pre-pandemic levels, by the end of this year it will only be 10 per cent below 2019 levels.
International visitor spend in China is forecast to grow more than 50 per cent this year to reach more than CNY 306bn. Although this is positive growth, it is still almost 70 per cent below the 2019 peak.
A look back on last year
Due to ongoing travel restrictions, last year the sector’s GDP contribution declined by almost 30 per cent to reach CNY 3.9trn, representing just over 3 per cent of the economy.
In 2019, before the pandemic, the Travel & Tourism sector in China was worth CNY 12.3trn, representing almost 12 per cent of the economy.
The sector saw jobs decline in 2022, from the previous year, to a low of 62.9mn jobs nationally – one in 12 jobs across China.
International visitor spend in China also declined in 2022 as the effects of prolonged travel restrictions continued to have a chokehold on the sector. International visitor spend declined a further 8.5 per cent remaining almost 80 per cent below 2019 levels.
Domestic visitor spend followed a similar pattern, declining 33 per cent last year, remaining 67 per cent below 2019 levels.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Travel & Tourism is a vital driver of economic growth and job creation to China, and we predict a significant boost to the global Travel & Tourism sector as residents begin to travel once again.
“The fact China has reopened is great news. In 2019 Chinese tourists represented 15 per cent of international spending and that figure is set to grow. We are urging governments to prioritize and streamline visa applications to ensure embassies can manage the high visa demand from Chinese residents.”
In 2019 and 2022, between 74-77 per cent of international visitors to mainland China came from Hong Kong, Macau, Myanmar, South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Vietnam. There were 49.7mn arrivals from those source markets in 2019, however in 2022, this reduced by 85 per cent to 7.2mn arrivals.
What does the next decade look like?
The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to almost CNY 27trn by 2033, 14 per cent of the Chinese economy and will employ over 100mn people across the country, with one in seven Chinese residents working in the sector.
In 2022, the Asia-Pacific Travel & Tourism sector contributed $1.6trn to the regional economy, but this is still 50 per cent behind the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the region’s GDP contribution from the sector will reach more than $2.6trn in 2023 – just 16 per cent below the 2019 highpoint.
The sector employed over 155mn people across the region in 2022, an increase of 8.7mn from the previous year but still 15 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels. WTTC forecasts the sector will fully recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2024.