Travel & Tourism is an export sector that makes a significant direct contribution to global trade, spreading its value widely across a large number of countries. Spending by international tourists is classified as visitor exports and represents 5% of world trade. Its contribution to exports is higher than it is to output - the sector accounts for around 3% GDP but over 5% of exports.
Its contribution is especially stark when looking at service sectors – Travel & Tourism contributes around 6% of service sector GDP, but 28% of service sector exports. On average, other high profile service sectors such as finance make less than half the contribution of Travel & Tourism. Overall Travel & Tourism is the 7th largest export sector and is one of the top ten export sectors for almost all of the G20 countries.
This research, conducted with Oxford Economics, has identified that travel and in particular, air travel, has a wider benefit to trade and travel activity,supporting and even generating additional international trade.
There is a causal relationship between travel and trade that is especially notable for business travel. Business travel and face-to-face meetings help to support international relations between trading partners and within companies. In turn, this supports international sales and helps in the development of partnerships and new products.
The research model found that the volume of trade supported by business travel was equivalent to 35% of global trade growth in the ten years to 2010. Similar analysis showed a similar proportion of trade was supported by travel in most world regions, including Asia.
Travel & Tourism is an important, but sometimes overlooked, export sector. Spending by foreign visitors (otherwise known as visitor exports) accounted for over 5% of total global exports in 2013 and 28% of service sector exports.
Visitor exports also make a notable contribution to total exports in Asia-Pacific countries, albeit a slightly smaller proportion than the global average, with many economies dependent on trading raw materials and manufactured goods.