MANILA — Travel and tourism was the Philippines’ largest sector in 2018, having a 24.7-percent share in the nation’s gross domestic product, according to a study by a global body that represents the private sector of travel and tourism.

“Travel & Tourism’s contribution to employment during 2018 was 26.4 percent, ahead of both Retail and Construction, at 20.4 percent and 15.7 percent respectively, and only just behind Agriculture (31.1 percent),” the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said in a report dated September 5 and released on Saturday, citing its own “benchmark” research.

“The report, sponsored by American Express, reveals that in the Philippines, of the sectors studied, Travel & Tourism is the largest sector in terms of GDP contribution, making up almost a quarter of country’s total GDP, ahead of Financial services (15.4 percent), Agriculture (14.8 percent) and Retail (14.8 percent),” it added.

In 2018, the sector contributed USD82 billion to the country’s economy, the study said.

“The industry has experienced incredible growth over the last nine years and WTTC commends the Philippines government for recognizing the importance of Travel & Tourism as a driver of economic growth and for their strategy in spreading the benefits of the industry across the country,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC.

The “benchmarking” research from WTTC compares the industry’s economic impact to eight other key sectors, such as agriculture, mining, health, automotive manufacturing, retail, financial services, banking, and construction, across 26 countries and 10 world regions.

According to WTTC, the sector accounts for 10.4 percent or around USD8.8 trillion of the total global GDP in 2018.

On a broader scale, travel and tourism’s contribution to global GDP was 1.4 times higher than agriculture (7.7 percent), 1.5 times higher than banking (7.1 percent) and automotive manufacturing (6.8 percent), and 1.7 times higher than mining (6.0 percent).

Travel and Tourism was also the “fastest-growing sector in 2018”, increasing 3.9 percent, ahead of automotive manufacturing (3.7 percent) and health (3.3 percent), and higher than the global economy growth rate (3.2 percent) for the eighth consecutive year.

WTTC attributed to the continuous rise in the number of middle-class households, solid growth in global consumer spending, low unemployment rates, continuous rebound from security threats, currency depreciation and visa relaxation in several countries around the world the strong growth in travel and tourism.

“As we know and is now reaffirmed by this Benchmarking Research, the Travel & Tourism sector is key for the country’s economy, underpinning much of spending and supporting millions of jobs,” Guevara said. (PNA)