WTTC reports major U.S. city destinations set to surpass 2019 Travel & Tourism GDP contributions last year despite international traveler spending lag. Travel & Tourism jobs expected to rebound from 2020 lull
DALLAS – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed Orlando is predicted to be the largest U.S. Travel and Tourism city destination in 2022 with an economic contribution of over $31 billion, representing 20% of the city’s total GDP and recovering above 2019 levels by $2.7 billion.
The Cities Economic Impact Report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analyzed key Travel & Tourism metrics across 82 cities around the world, including contribution to GDP, employment and traveler spend.
The report studied the sector’s impact in Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Honolulu.
Las Vegas followed Orlando as the second largest Travel & Tourism market in the U.S. with a direct GDP contribution of $23 billion last year, surpassing the 2019 baseline by 5.3%.
Miami made the top city destinations list with a heroic GDP comeback last year of $11.1 billion that exceeded pre-pandemic Travel & Tourism contributions by 5% despite a devastating 56% drop in economic contribution from the sector in 2020.
New York City and Los Angeles also landed in the top U.S. rankings for 2022 with Travel & Tourism GDPs valued at $21.1 billion and $11 billion respectively, showing strong signs of closing the gap to 2019 levels.
“It was a fightback year for cities across the country in 2022. Destinations like Orlando, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas are back stronger than ever before thanks to the relaxation of pandemic restrictions and a strong rebound of consumer confidence,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.
“Other popular holiday destinations like San Francisco, Honolulu and Washington D.C. are following suit with growing sector GDP contributions that are well on their way to recovering from peak pandemic lows as they build up their industry workforce and cultivate a flourishing base of international travelers.”
Domestic Travelers Dominate Visitor Spending in Major U.S. City Destinations
In 2019, domestic travelers made up an 84.6% share of Travel & Tourism spending in the U.S. – that number increased to more than 95% in 2021. Travel hubs like Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas continued to benefit from strong domestic spending last year to surpass 2019 marks by 19% on average.
In Washington D.C., domestic visitors provided $5.27 billion to the local economy in 2022, 85% of pre-pandemic revenue. Honolulu and San Francisco were not far behind with spending reaching $4.7 billion and $3.41 billion, respectively.
Despite a strong domestic traveler market, pressure created by the slower-than-expected international traveler spending return in the U.S. continued to drive a performance gap in the overall economic recovery of many city destinations last year. The combined international visitor spend across the nine U.S. cities analyzed was 35% below 2019 levels.
Orlando was the only major city destination to maintain its industry edge with international visitors, surpassing 2019 spending by almost 20% in 2022.
Positive Trends for Travel & Tourism Employment in 2022
New York City’s direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to jobs grew by almost 32% between 2020 and 2022, representing an increase of more than 59,200 filled positions.
Las Vegas displayed equally impressive employment gains year-over-year, climbing out of a record low of 163,800 jobs in 2020 to round out 2022 with more than 206,000 industry positions.
While employment across Travel & Tourism in major city destinations continues to rise after the devastating loss of thousands of jobs in the industry throughout the country in 2020, many top markets are still struggling to meet or exceed 2019 job levels despite positive macro-GDP growth.
In 2022, Chicago was the only major city destination with direct contribution of Travel & Tourism jobs outstripping 2019 employment levels, reaching 178,200 jobs last year (a more than 20,000 increase from 2019).
The Travel & Tourism sector overcame significant long-haul hurdles and is poised to emerge even stronger going into 2023 as a critical driver for economic prosperity. By fostering private and public sector collaboration to reintegrate the workforce and attract new talent that meets consumer demand while encouraging open borders, the industry can continue to meet and exceed record economic development.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.