The tourism sector is not just another sector of the economy. We are talking about a sector that, in addition to representing one tenth of the world economy, supports 20% of all employment generated since 2013.

The continuous improvement of communication systems, as well as those of transport, have brought about a greater connection between territories on the planet. This has led to increased traffic of people who, repeatedly, move freely around the world with the sole purpose of visiting new destinations and places they previously did not know. In this sense, promoting a tourism sector increasingly strengthened and highlighted in the various economies that make up the planet, as already, in many of these economies, we are talking about a sector that could be considered, to all intents and purposes, as a strategic sector.

As I say, while in 1990, human trafficking on the planet, the arrival of foreign tourists worldwide, was estimated at 458,247 travelers, with the continuous improvement we mentioned earlier, the volume of foreign tourists who traveled and arrived at new destinations last year, we are talking about a figure of 1.4 billion. We are talking about an amount that not only reflects the strong momentum that the tourism sector has experienced in recent years, but also the clear potential offered by a sector that, in contrast to others, presents a continuous year-on-year growth that seems to have no end.

In a matter of years, tourism has gone from being close to 3% of world GDP to contributing more than 10% of GDP itself. In this sense, we are talking about one tenth of the world economy being fully dependent on the tourism sector. In this regard, in the light of the data we can see the great contribution that this sector makes to the economy, as well as to society itself and its development. It should be stressed that the tourism sector not only brings economic prosperity, but also that continuous cultural transfer and interconnection between different societies and cultures, promoting an increasingly present integration on our planet.

With a contribution of 8.8 billion dollars, the tourism sector is positioned as one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, being surpassed only by the manufacturing sector. Of course, it is far ahead of such important sectors as the financial, health or even the technology sector. Thus, the tourism sector contributes to the world economy with a contribution of 5,000 million dollars a day; generated directly through all the services and sub-sectors that the sector presents. In this sense we are referring to the air sector, hotels and restaurants, as well as anyone related to the tourism sector.

Such is its weight in the economy that, on the employment side, we are talking about a sector that has generated 20% of all employment generated in the world since 2013. In this sense, we are talking about a tourism sector that contributes with two out of every ten jobs that have been generated in the world in the last 7 years. Thus, one out of every ten employees on the planet, at this time, is directly employed in the tourism sector. Moreover, if we break this down by country, the amount in certain tourism powers amounts to more employees. One more reason why we are talking about a grateful sector that is very rich for the economy.

But if there is one thing that we should highlight and cannot pass up, it is the great adaptation of a sector like tourism to the periods when the economy is most deteriorated. Since the 2008 crisis, if there is one sector that has come out stronger, it has been the tourism sector. In countries like Spain, for example, the crisis brought with it a great loss of productive capacity, but also a strong increase in the weight of the tourism sector in the national economy. Such is its strength and boom that we are talking about a contribution to GDP that, counting auxiliary services and indirect contribution, is estimated at 25% of GDP; a quarter of the Spanish economy. A data that if we extrapolate it to employment, we can see how its contribution amounts to 14.7% of total employment in the country.

In this sense, its high level of seasonality, 32% in Spain, has meant that the tourism sector is capable of adapting to all scenarios, adapting its flexible workforce to each situation and each recession. This is why, if we contrast the growth of the tourism sector, along with trade, it is one of the sectors that has declined the least in recent years, even showing growth in contexts where the economy was not in a favorable situation for the sectors to show growth. One more reason to continue betting on a sector like this.

In summary, and to conclude, the tourism sector is a sector that is suffering greatly from the damage of an unprecedented pandemic. Many governments are helping the sector at times like this, but there are also many governments that are committed to changes in production models, rejecting tourism models that, although they need to be improved, have the capacity to become major generators of economic growth; as the data presented in the article shows, we are talking about, and let us not forget, one of the main engines of growth in the world.

Francisco Coll MoralesEconomist

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