Economy Watch: Tourism Seeing Strong Growth in North America

Tourism growth in the U.S. and Canada is expected to reach 3.1 percent in 2016, contributing to the U.S. hospitality sector's second-best year ever.

Puerto Rico tourismTourism, which is a pillar supporting not only hospitality properties, but also the retail sector to some extent, is still growing at a reasonably healthy pace in many parts of the world, according to a recent report by the World Travel & Tourism Council. That includes North America, where tourism growth this year will be more than GDP growth for either the United States or Canada.

Overall, the organization predicted that despite the ill-tidings from from various parts of the world (war, new diseases) in the first half of 2016, the tourism sector worldwide will grow by 3.1 percent for the whole year. That matches global economic growth, at least according to the latest estimate of the International Monetary Fund for the year.

As for North America, tourism is expected to grow 3.1 percent for 2016, which is one reason that the U.S. hospitality sector is on its way to its second-best year ever (after 2015, the best year so far). Tourism growth compares favorably with the 2.2 percent growth for 2016 that U.S. GDP is expected to enjoy, according to IMF predictions. Moreover, Canadian GDP is expected to grow by only 1.4 percent this year.

As a region, however, North America isn’t the most robust hub of tourism growth, the WTTC explained. That would be South Asia, which will see growth of 5.9 percent in the sector this year, especially because of India (investors in Indian hotels, take note). By contrast, tourism in Latin America will actually contract this year, down by 0.9 percent, with Brazil especially dragging down the region’s tourism, despite the Olympics.