Tourism has become one of the main sectors for the economy. Its weight in the GDP, as well as its contribution to employment, makes it a fundamental pillar for the world economy.

Tourism represents one of the main engines of growth for the world economy. In recent years, the tourism industry has gained great weight in the world economy. With the advance of globalization, the number of tourists has shot up year-on-year in recent years, interfering with a clear improvement in the sector, as well as in the quality of service. The transit of people, as well as the great tourist offer and the professionalization of the sector, has turned it into one of the fundamental pillars of the economy.

Some economies that, in previous years, did not enjoy a good tourism project, given the evolution of tourism and the potential of the sector for the economy, have begun to develop initiatives that not only value their territory, but also try to attract the large number of tourists who travel from one place to another, in search of discovering new places. Some cases such as Turkey or Dubai are clear examples of how an economy adapts to a tourism model, becoming great alternatives for the world’s main tourism economies.

Such is their importance in the economy that, according to data from The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism exceeds 10% of world GDP. We are talking about a sector that is gaining more and more strength in the economy, displacing other sectors that historically have had more weight, such as the financial or health sector. This, although it gives us an idea of the magnitude of the sector, as well as the degree of penetration of the same in the global economy.

With 8.8 billion dollars, tourism has positioned itself, as we said, ahead of almost all the sectors that make up our economic system. Being surpassed only by the manufacturing sector, tourism has become a sector with great persistence and penetration. Such is the case that tourism, according to the historical series, is one of the few sectors that, despite the crises that the world economy has suffered, has not been as affected as others. A sector that, as we see, has always meant a safe bet for the investor.

Tourism, given the magnitude of its growth, is a great engine for the economy. Also for employment, where, according to WTTC data. As can be seen, tourism has consolidated itself as one of the sectors with the highest rate of job creation in the world. Since 2013, tourism has generated 20% of the employment created worldwide.  As we can see from the data provided by the WTTC report, tourism, as of 2018 -not yet published in 2019-, employs 319 million people, expecting this figure to increase to 421 million by 2029.

As we can see, we are no longer talking about a sector with high growth, but one of the fundamental sectors for the economy, since a large number of jobs generated in recent years depend on it. This places tourism not only as an engine for economic growth, but also as the real engine for the creation of jobs that the world economy needs. In addition, we are talking about a sector that makes no distinction based on gender, race or religion, since the multiculturalism of the employees in it, in contrast to others, tends to be more diverse.

In fact, in terms of gender equality, Cornell University highlighted in one of its studies on the tourism sector the large presence of women in the sector. And not especially in low-skilled jobs, but an average parity could be seen in all the hierarchical ranks of the institutions. To go further, the study reflected a greater presence of women than men within the sector. In the weighting, we speak of 55% women, compared to the remaining 45%, which corresponds to men.

The tourism sector has not only come to stay, but to position itself as one of the main sectors in the world -which it already is. A sector for which all the countries in the world fight, leading the ranking in countries such as Spain, France or the United States. Among these three, the leadership as the “first tourist destination in the world” is at stake. However, in recent years, the strong push and great dynamism in which the tourism sector in Spain has been supported, has led it to become the main tourist destination in the world.

A position that, until now, has been occupied by France, but that, in view of the strong commitment of the Spanish, the position could be taken away in a matter of years. A position that, with the passage of time, is going to be increasingly contested. Many emerging economies are already betting on the sector. Let’s remember that we were talking about Turkey or Dubai before. The strong commitment of these, as well as another great cast of emerging economies, will end up with a high degree of competitiveness among the different countries, adjusting the ranking to much more equal levels, as well as a greater weight of tourism in the global economy.

Francisco Coll MoralesEconomist

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