Published: 21 May 2024

Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024

The Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI) 2024 is the second edition of an index that evolved from the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) series, a flagship index of the World Economic Forum that has been in production since 2007. The TTDI is part of the Forum’s broader work with industry and government stakeholders to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future for economies and local communities.

Created in collaboration with the University of Surrey and with input from leading Travel & Tourism (T&T) stakeholder organizations, thought leaders and data partners, the TTDI measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of T&T.

This edition of the index explores the state of the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic amid an increasingly complex operating landscape, while also highlighting the sector’s potential to address global challenges ranging from environmental degradation to the delivery of socioeconomic prosperity.

The TTDI 2024 results are as follows:

The T&T sector’s post-pandemic growth continues, but its recovery has been mixed and operating conditions have been challenging. While 71 of the 119 TTDI-ranked economies increased their scores between the 2019 and 2024 editions, the average index score is just 0.7% above pre-pandemic levels. Pillar performance across a broad range of economies highlights a rebound in global T&T demand that has coincided with rising global air route capacity and connectivity, improved international openness, and increased demand and investment in tourism-generating natural and cultural resources. However, despite this growth, non-leisure demand is still behind that of leisure, labour shortages are ongoing, and air route capacity and connectivity, T&T capital investment, productivity and other sector supply factors have not kept up with demand. The resulting supply and demand imbalance, combined with broad inflationary pressure, has led to reduced price competitiveness and service disruptions.

In general, the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions and high-income economies in particular continue to have the most favourable conditions for T&T development. Out of the top 30 TTDI scorers in 2024, 26 are high-income, 19 are based in Europe, seven are in Asia-Pacific, three are in the Americas and one is in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The highest-ranked economies in the 2024 TTDI edition are those of the United States, Spain, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy and Switzerland. Thanks to typical advantages ranging from favourable business environments and open travel policies to well-developed transport, tourism and ICT infrastructure and natural, cultural and non-leisure attractions, the top 30 TTDI scorers accounted for over 75% of T&T industry GDP in 2022 and 70% of GDP growth between 2020 and 2022.

T&T enabling conditions in developing economies continue to improve, but far more is needed to close the sector-enabling gap. Low to upper-middle-income economies accounted for 52 out of the 71 economies that have improved their TTDI scores since 2019. Saudi Arabia (+5.7%, 50th to 41st) and the United Arab Emirates (+4.4%, 25th to 18th) are the only high-income economies to rank among the top 10 most improved between 2019 and 2024, with the remainder being the developing countries of Uzbekistan (+7.8%, 94th to 78th), Côte d’Ivoire (+6.4%, 116th to 114th), Albania (+5.9%, 78th to 66th), Tanzania (+4.5%, 88th to 81st), Indonesia (+4.5%, 36th to 22nd), Egypt (+4.3%, 66th to 61st), Nigeria (+4.2%, 113th to 112th) and El Salvador (+4.0%, 101st to 97th). Moreover, the major emerging T&T economies of Indonesia, Brazil (+3.3%, 34th to 26th) and Türkiye (+3.1%, 37th to 29th) joined China (+1.0%, 9th to 8th) in the top quartile of the TTDI. Nonetheless, despite above-average growth, non-high-income economies account for nearly 90% of below-average index scorers, indicating a need for further investment to close gaps in enabling conditions if these economies wish to increase their share of the T&T market and improve their readiness for future risks and opportunities.

Additional takeaways are as follows:

Increasing ICT readiness and pandemic-era business and labour policies benefit T&T, but more progress is needed on areas such as workforce resilience and equality. Driven by expanded online access, mobile network coverage and digital payment usage, the 7.2% surge in ICT Readiness pillar scores reflects the further digitalization of T&T services. Meanwhile, economy-wide policies implemented during the pandemic may have made it easier for T&T operators to do business. However, the T&T sector’s growth momentum is under pressure from challenges such as tight labour markets (notably in mature T&T economies), declining credit ratings and growing fiscal constraints, as well as concerns about health and security conditions. Labour market resilience and inclusion are also increasingly important for T&T, yet nearly 70% of non-high-income economies’ T&T labour force is based in countries scoring below average for the TTDI’s new Labour Market Resilience and Equality subpillar, which measures aspects such as equality of job opportunities, workers’ rights and social protection.

T&T resources, particularly natural and cultural assets, offer developing economies an opportunity for tourism-led economic development. The distribution of natural and cultural resources is less correlated with country income level than other T&T enablers, with many developing economies with a strong portfolio of natural and cultural resources able to create thriving tourism sectors. However, effectively harnessing these resources requires comprehensive management, promotion and protection strategies, alongside investment in robust infrastructure and ICT readiness. Therefore, despite their potential, many countries have not been able to effectively leverage their rich heritage for T&T growth, with just the top 20 T&T dimension performers – predominantly in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe – surpassing the index average by approximately 90% in 2023.

Despite progress, balancing growth with sustainability remains a major problem for the T&T sector. Increasing average Environmental Sustainability and T&T Socioeconomic Impact pillar scores between 2019 and 2024 reflect broad progress in areas such as energy sustainability and sector contribution to high-wage employment. However, some of this progress, such as reduced sector emissions during the pandemic, is likely to be temporary, while decreasing scores for T&T Demand Sustainability (since 2021) reflect the resurfacing of historical sustainability challenges such as high seasonality and overcrowding as travel demand continues to recover. Furthermore, the results reveal the nuanced economic and social effects of T&T, with the sector being a major source of relatively high-wage jobs in developing countries, while gender parity in T&T employment is a major issue for regions such as MENA and South Asia.

Leveraging the T&T sector to address global challenges

Aside from improving readiness to handle future external global challenges including economic inequality, environmental threats linked to climate change and pollution, technological innovation and global connectivity, the T&T sector can also play a significant role in addressing them.

To fully realize T&T’s potential in solving some of these global challenges, governments and key stakeholders need to proactively shape the sector to become more resilient, inclusive and sustainable for the future. Potential key focus areas, derived from the TTDI 2024 results as well as other research, are:

Leveraging T&T for environmental sustainability by:

  • Providing greater value for nature conservation efforts
  • Leading on the energy transition
  • Driving responsible consumption

Leveraging T&T for socioeconomic prosperity by:

  • Investing in skilled, inclusive and resilient workforces
  • Putting local communities at the centre of T&T development
  • Strategically managing visitor behaviour and infrastructure development

Leveraging T&T for global connectivity and peace by:

  • Increasing travel openness
  • Encouraging cultural exchange between visitors and the local community

Leveraging T&T and technology for positive impact by:

  • Adopting technology for sustainable and resilient T&T management
  • Bridging the digital divide and creating opportunities
  • Ensuring responsible and safe use of technology

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