North America’s Tourism Sector Shows 4% Growth With Cruise Leading the Charge

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As we are now firmly in a post-pandemic situation, the North American tourist trade outlook looks even more positive. The World Travel and Tourism Council even reports that the North American travel and tourism sector is projected to grow at an average annual rate of nearly 4% over the next decade. 

With the entire industry expected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2032, one sector, in particular, is doing its part in getting the tourism sector up and running again.

The cruise industry could be surpassing the record numbers it achieved in 2019, already this year, with the expectation that by 2026, the cruise industry would have beaten that by 12 to 28%.

Jobs, Income, and GDP all Benefit From Tourism Increase

Despite the measures that still surround international travel and affect travel worldwide even today, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) believes that the tourism sectors have firmly taken the road to recovery.

The North American Travel and Tourism Gross Domestic Product is expected to grow nearly 4% each year over the next ten years.

Cruise Ships in Miami, Florida
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

The sector is expected to deliver nine and a half million new jobs over the next ten years, and recovery could be closer than expected, with the GDP reaching 2019 levels as early as 2023 across North America.

There are no signs of recovery slowing down; the pent-up demand for travel, and the fact that more and more people are comfortable traveling again, means that the growth rate is increasing significantly. The sector’s contribution to the GDP of the United States is growing by 38.2% to reach $2.1 trillion.

Read Also: With Cruise Lines Making a Recovery, Staffing Issues are Growing

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The pandemic cost North America’s Travel & Tourism sector a staggering 8.85 million jobs and nearly $1.1 trillion in GDP in 2020. The U.S. travel and tourism business is showing a strong recovery.” 

Although growth is significant, not all opportunities are taken according to the WTTC. Specifically, the industry organization feels the current testing regimes in place are a hindrance to growth: 

“While we respect CDC’s tough decisions during the pandemic, the science indicates that the antigen test for returning U.S. citizens and visitors is redundant. Other economies have scrapped all restrictions, the current antigen test is slowing the U.S. recovery.”

One Industry Leads The Way

The cruise industry has shown to be the pack leader in the last two years. By implementing strict health and safety measures onboard the ships, the cruise industry showed the world that travel could be done safely, as long as precautions are being taken.

Port Canaveral Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: Robert Michaud /

Since the start of operations, the cruise industry has sailed with over 5 million passengers, the vast majority from the United States. If the forecasts remain positive, the cruise industry could reach its pre-pandemic levels already at the end of 2022. Much sooner than initially anticipated. 

In the best circumstances, this growth will continue and exceed pre-pandemic levels by a staggering 28% by the end of 2026. But that’s not the only place the cruise lines are leading. It is one of the few industries worldwide that has committed itself to sustainable tourism, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050.

During the first months of 2020, when the pandemic had already firmly taken hold, the prediction was that it could take many more years before the tourism and cruise industry would recover. With the cruise industry’s leading role, this timeline has shortened significantly. 

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