Reports
Authors: Lauren Uppink and Maksim Soshkin
Published: 24 May 2022

Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021: Rebuilding for a Sustainable and Resilient Future

A direct evolution of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, the new Travel & Tourism Development Index benchmarks and measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the Travel and Tourism (T&T) sector, which in turn contributes to the development of a country”. The 2021 edition of the index highlights the vital need to invest in T&T, the impact of COVID-19 and how sector stakeholders can draw on T&T development strategies to build back better. In particular, amid the current challenges, shifting demand dynamics and future opportunities and risks, a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient sector must be created.

The theme of this year’s Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI) is “Rebuilding for a Sustainable and Resilient Future”. The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges the Travel and Tourism (T&T) sector has faced, undermining not only the prosperity of businesses within the sector but also the well-being of tens of millions of employees, local communities and entire economies around the world. As the sector slowly recovers, it will be crucial that lessons are learned from recent and current crises and that steps are taken to embed long-term inclusivity, sustainability and resilience into the T&T sector as it faces evolving challenges and risks. In doing so, the sector can continue to be a driver of global connectivity, peace and economic and social progress. T&T development strategies will play an important role in accomplishing this.

Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021

What is the TTDI?

The TTDI benchmarks and measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the T&T sector, which in turn contributes to the development of a country”. The TTDI is a direct evolution of the long-running Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), with the change reflecting the index’s increased coverage of T&T development concepts, including sustainability and resilience impact on T&T growth and is designed to highlight the sector’s role in broader economic and social development as well as the need for T&T stakeholder collaboration to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, bolster the recovery and deal with future challenges and risks. Some of the most notable framework and methodology differences between the TTCI and TTDI include the additions of new pillars, including Non-Leisure Resources, Socioeconomic Resilience and Conditions, and T&T Demand Pressure and Impact. Please see the Technical notes and methodology. section to learn more about the index and the differences between the TTCI and TTDI.

Results Summary

Relatively stagnant TTDI results reinforce the difficult situation the T&T sector faces. On average, TTDI scores increased by just 0.1% between 2019 and 2021, with only 39 out of 117 economies covered by the index improving by more than 1.0%, 51 increasing or decreasing within a 1.0% range and 27 declining by over 1.0%. Aside from the United States (2nd), the top 10 scoring countries are high-income economies in the Europe and Eurasia or Asia-Pacific regions. Japan tops the ranking, with fellow regional economies Australia and Singapore coming in 7th and 9th, respectively. Meanwhile, Italy joined the top 10 (up from 12th in 2019) in 2021, while Canada slid out (10th to 13th). The remaining top 10 TTDI performers are Spain (3rd), France (4th), Germany (5th), Switzerland (6th) and the United Kingdom (8th). Viet Nam experienced the greatest improvement in score (+4.7%, 60th to 52nd) on the overall index, while Indonesia (+3.4%, 44th to 32nd) and Saudi Arabia (+2.3%, 43rd to 33rd) had the greatest improvement in rank.

Overall, the Europe and Eurasia (Europe) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions dominate the TTDI ranking (9.0% and 4.9% above the TTDI average, respectively). However, Europe is the only region to have decreased its average score since 2019 (just -0.5%), very slightly eroding its considerable lead. On the other hand, the sub-Saharan Africa (Africa) region had the greatest improvement in performance (+1.1%), but far more needs to be done for economies in the region to catch up with the global average (-18.4% below TTDI average). The Americas and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions also underperform the global average (-3.1% and -2.8% below TTDI average). Nonetheless, the Americas region has marginally gained in its score (+0.6%), while MENA has remained relatively stable as its improvement (+0.1%) was in line with overall global performance.

To explore the index results through interactive data visualizations, please visit the Interactive Data and Economy Profiles.

The key findings of the index show the following:

The need for T&T development has never been greater: The T&T sector is a major driver of economic development, global connectivity and the livelihood of some of the populations and businesses most vulnerable to, and hardest hit by, the pandemic. Therefore, supporting T&T development and recovery – which in turn will help the global recovery, build resilience and support all of those who depend on the sector for work – will be critical. For more on this please visit section 4.1.

The T&T sector has faced difficult operating conditions, but shifting demand dynamics have created opportunities and a need for adaptation: In the shorter term, challenges such as reduced capacity, geopolitical tensions and labour shortages are slowing recovery. However, opportunities have been created in markets such as domestic and nature-based tourism, the rise of digital nomads and “bleisure”.1 The T&T sector stakeholders’ ability to adapt under these conditions highlights its capacity for adaptation and flexibility. For more on this please visit section 4.2.

T&T development strategies can be employed to help the sector build back better: Amid the current challenges, shifting demand dynamics and future opportunities and risks, a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient sector can be – and needs to be – built. However, this calls for thoughtful and effective consideration. It also requires leveraging development drivers and strategies, including: restoring and accelerating international openness and consumer confidence, via, for example, improved health and security; building favourable and inclusive labour, business and socioeconomic conditions; focusing more on environmental sustainability; strengthening the management of tourism demand and impact; and investment in digital technology. For more on this please visit sections 4.3 and 4.4.

Deep Dive: Key Findings ➝

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