2018 travel and hospitality industry outlook

Reimagining the travel experience

Global travel industry gross bookings reached $1.6 trillion in 2017, making it one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world.1 Factoring in indirect economic contributions, travel and tourism now accounts for a staggering 10.2 percent of global GDP.

A strengthening global economy lies at the heart of industry growth. Each year, the global traveler pool is flooded with millions of new consumers from both emerging and developed markets, many with rising disposable incomes and a newfound ability to experience the world. A sleeping giant has truly awakened—the impact of which cannot be underestimated.

Over the past two decades, the number of international travel departures across the globe has more than doubled from roughly 600 million to 1.3 billion. Many travelers from emerging countries are leaving domestic borders for the very first time, injecting billions of dollars of new growth into the travel economy and helping the industry outpace global GDP. Growth appears poised to continue, lifting the industry to new heights in 2018 and beyond.

The US travel market is among the leading beneficiaries of a swelling global traveler pool. Over the past 20 years, international arrivals into the United States grew 72 percent—from 55 million to 76 million. In combination with other key growth drivers, this influx of spending drove the total US market, comprised of six segments including airlines, lodging, car rental, cruise, rail, and travel packaging to hit a record $353 billion in 2017.6 Strong five percent growth is forecasted for 2018, setting the industry on course to hit a record-breaking $370 billion by year’s end.

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