When the World Economic Forum published its 2019 edition of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR), growth in the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector was achieving new records. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals worldwide reached 1.4 billion in 2018, two years ahead of predictions, though the TTCR findings warned of a potential tipping point at which the endless pursuit of growth and competitiveness in the sector might serve to undermine the very assets on which it is built and depends.
Two years later, the T&T sector looks very different. Demand in this sector was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving not only companies but also tourism-driven national economies severely affected by shutdowns, travel restrictions and the disappearance of international travel. Fortunately, there are positive signals, and analysis shows that recovery has started, albeit not at the same pace across the globe or in the same market segments. New factors, such as the war in Ukraine, are also adding to the complexity of this uneven recovery.
However, the sector and its customers have probably changed permanently. Travellers have become more discerning, not least about the health and hygiene conditions in potential destinations; they are also cautious about the impact of future COVID variants or challenges in the form of government policies, border closures and travel disruptions. Moreover, the halt in international travel gave some travellers, both leisure and business, a pause to consider the impact of their choices on climate and the environment. Governments and T&T businesses have had to reassess where they invest, how they mitigate risk and an increase in the volatility of demand, and how they respond to the changing expectations of their customers.
In an effort to support the sector and avoid the aforementioned tipping point, the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Mobility set about redesigning the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), upon which the TTCR has been based for the past 15 years. During 2020 and 2021, deep engagement with our diverse community of stakeholders, including policy-makers, expert practitioners and leaders in the sector, reinforced the need to improve the ability of the index to reflect the growing role of sustainability and resilience in T&T growth, as well as the sector’s role in broader economic and social development. We are therefore proud to deliver this inaugural publication of the Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI), an evolution of the widely recognized TTCI.
Supported by an expert advisory group and our community of partners, we believe that the 2021 TTDI effectively demonstrates the imperative to embed sustainability and resilience into the design and management of the sector as it rebuilds in the context of the pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions that are leading to volatility in multiple markets. The new framework provides a useful and flexible tool for leaders and practitioners to benchmark performance and assess their T&T development, management and long-term strategies, addressing the myriad factors that contribute to more resilient and sustainable destinations and travel markets overall.
We invite leaders, both public and private, to collaborate with us in using insights from the index to inform and shape new practices, solutions and policies that ensure T&T returns in a way that preserves the many assets on which it is founded, future-proofs it in the face of environmental, social and economic risks, and reinstates it as a meaningful contributor to inclusive economic development, cultural exchange and job creation globally.
Lastly, this work relies on the dedicated collaboration of a network of distinguished thinkers and practitioners who provided their knowledge and insights towards its production. We are grateful to our advisory group, which comprises representatives from Bloom Consulting, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the University of Surrey, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), and to our data partners Air DNA, Bloom Consulting, Euromonitor International, and Global Petrol Prices. com, IATA, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), STR, Tripadvisor, the UNWTO and the WTTC. We also thank the authors of this publication, Maksim Soshkin, and Lauren Uppink Calderwood, for their stewardship of this community and the delivery of the Travel & Tourism Development Index.