Skift Take

U.S. tourism job growth is already projected to be smaller than the rest of the world without the full impact of some of the Trump administration's policies. The travel industry is asking for a seat at the table to convince Washington why that means bad news.

As a global travel organization released new employment numbers for the industry, its outgoing CEO urged President Donald Trump to encourage U.S. job growth in tourism rather than inhibit it.

In the U.S., tourism directly supported 5.5 million jobs and supported a total of 14.2 million jobs both directly and indirectly in 2016, according to a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council, or WTTC (see full report below).

“Travel and tourism jobs are intrinsic to making America great because they cannot be replaced elsewhere!” David Scowsill, WTTC’s CEO, said in a statement. “We urge the U.S. administration to acknowledge the strength of these figures and to adjust their current predominantly inward-facing strategy, which seems to be restricting growth in the travel and tourism sector.”

The U.S. travel industry is the country’s fourth-largest by total employment, second-largest in economic impact and sixth-largest by GDP impact. The country supports twice as many jobs as banking (2.7 million) and nearly six times as many jobs as automotive manufacturing (987,000), for example.

Given the president’s “America First” policy that’s largely tied to job creation, WTTC feels the Trump administration’s anti-tourism actions such as the travel ban and proposal to eliminate Brand USA would cost U.S. jobs.

Scowsill, who’s been vocal in his opposition to the travel ban since it was first announced, is stepping down from his position later this month and his successor hasn’t been named.

“We invite the Trump administration to sit around the table with the top travel and tourism industry leaders to discuss how the U.S. can continue to be a thriving tourist destination, welcoming over 77 million visitors a year,” Scowsill said.

Last year, the global travel and tourism industry directly supported more than 108 million jobs, a 1.6 percent increase over 2015. Travel is the world’s fourth largest industry by employment behind only the retail, construction and agriculture industries, WTTC found.

Tourism also directly contributed $2.3 trillion to the world’s economy and directly and indirectly supported more than 292 million total jobs — about 10 percent of all global jobs.

Asia-Pacific is the top region for travel employment with 67.3 million jobs and $714 billion in GDP contribution directly supported by the travel industry as of 2016. In Europe, tourism directly supported 14 million jobs and $696 billion in GDP contribution last year.

“It is easy to applaud the efforts or even to criticize the failings of travel and tourism in isolation without looking at the picture of our industry separate from the overall industrial context,” Scowsill said.

WTTC’s analysis is based on data from 27 countries, including the U.S, UK, France, China and Australia, and although the data include many of the world’s largest economies, the total number of jobs and GDP impact are likely higher than WTTC is reporting.

The analysis also compared travel and tourism to eight other industries, including construction, financial services and automotive manufacturing. The travel industry directly supports nearly twice as many jobs as financial services and more than five times as many jobs as chemicals manufacturing, data show.

The data show global travel industry GDP is projected to grow four percent per year during the next decade. Estimates show travel GDP in the U.S. will grow 3.3 percent per year for the next decade.

It’s uncertain how much Trump’s words and actions can be tied to the United States’ smaller estimated growth, but it’s clear that WTTC and the travel industry want to sit down with the administration to discuss how to prevent U.S. travel GDP growth from becoming even less competitive with other countries.

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Tags: employment, labor, tourism, wttc

Photo credit: Tourism directly supported 5.5 million jobs in the U.S. last year, according to a new report. Pictured are employees at the Southern Hotel in Covington, Lousiana. Peter Clark / Flickr

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