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The APEC Tourism Working Group (TWG) was formed in 1991 as a platform for tourism administrators of APEC economies to share information, exchange views and develop areas of cooperation in tourism, trade and policies to support growth in the region through travel and tourism.

In 2020, the group endorsed its APEC TWG Strategic Plan 2020–2024, covering four priority areas:

  1. Digital transformation
  2. Human capital development
  3. Travel and facilitation competitiveness
  4. Sustainable tourism and economic growth

Additionally, the TWG aligned with APEC Malaysia 2020’s priorities under its overarching theme “Optimising Human Potential towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity. Pivot. Prioritise. Progress”:

  • Improving the narrative of trade and investment
  • Inclusive economic participation through digital economy and technology
  • Driving innovative sustainability

The Economic Contribution of Tourism in the APEC Region

In 2018, APEC ministers recognized the economic significance of tourism in terms of regional cooperation, trade, MSME support, job creation, skills enhancement, innovation, and the development of ICT.

Prior to the pandemic, the tourism sector was one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. In 2019, travel and tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact accounted for

  • USD 9.2 trillion contributed to the world’s GDP, or 10.4 percent of global GDP
  • 334 million jobs or 1 in 10 jobs around the world
  • USD 1.7 trillion in visitor exports (6.8 percent of total exports, 27.4 percent of global services exports)

Severely hit by the pandemic, the contribution of the tourism sector to global GDP has decreased by 49.1 percent, from USD9.2 trillion in 2019 to USD4.7 trillion in 2020. The contribution of tourism sector accounted for10.4 percent of global GDP in 2019, which declined to a share of 5.5 percent in 2020. The 334 million jobs  in 2019 that are connected to the tourism sector have shrunk to 272 million jobs, a decrease of 18.5 percent in 2020.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the total contribution of the tourism sector to GDP suffered a 53.7 percent drop from US$3 trillion in 2019 to USD1.4 trillion in 2020. The contribution of the sector in the region accounted to 9.9 percent of the total economy in 2019. This decreased to only 4.6 percent of the total economy in the Asia-Pacific in 2020. The number of jobs also plummeted from 185.06 million in 2019 to 151.01 million jobs in 2020, an 18.4 percent decrease of total employment in the region.       

The tourism sector directly and indirectly contributed to all 17 goals of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, Economic Growth and Decent Work, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Responsible Consumption and Production.

Source: APEC State of Tourism Report, World Travel & Tourism Council Economic Impact Reports

Last page update: February 2022


Demyan Smilevets (Mr)
Head, International Cooperation Department
Russia Federal Agency for Tourism
Email: [email protected]
Denisse HURTADO (Ms)
Program Director

Current Activities

APEC Tourism Working Group (TWG) Virtual Meeting on COVID-19

The TWG was the first APEC working group to adapt a fully virtual format in this meeting in May 2020. Fully aware that the tourism industry was the first to suffer and the last to recover from the pandemic, TWG members discussed the Post COVID tourism scenario and revised its Strategic Plan to respond to current and future pandemics in this special meeting.  The group also released a statement [Statement by the TWG] on the outcome of the special meeting which contained its commitment to future work in mitigating and recovering from future pandemics and natural disasters. 


In 2020 and 2021, the TWG produced  four publications: Leveraging the Digital Economy to Promote an Inclusive Tourism Industry: Workshop Summary Report, led by Chile; the APEC Economic Study on the Impact of Cruise Tourism: Fostering MSMEs' Growth and Creating Sustainable Communities, led by Papua New Guinea; the Prospect Analysis for Sustainable Development of Tourism in Remote Areas of APEC Economies – Phase I, led by Russia; and Exploring Innovative Digitalisation for Tourism MSMEs in Developing APEC Economies: What Can We Learn from Tourism's Response to COVID-19?, led by Malaysia.   

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