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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, with the following objectives:

  1. Digital transformation
  • Facilitate the uptake of digital and innovative technologies across the travel and tourism supply chain to meet and exceed visitor expectations, increase competitiveness, and expand the benefits of travel and tourism to the entire community
  1. Human capital development
  • Support the development of skills and capabilities (including digital literacy) of employers and employees to deliver high quality visitor experiences and create career pathways
  • Support the strengthening of air, sea, road and rail connectivity to meet visitor demand and enhancing regional access; work with relevant authorities to provide secure, efficient and positive visitor experiences at entry and exit
  1. Travel facilitation and competitiveness
  1. Sustainable tourism and economic growth
  • Communicate the importance of travel and tourism as an economic driver in APEC economies; and promote better understanding and recognition of travel and tourism as an engine for growth in the APEC region
  • Maximize the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to employment, economic development, environmental protection and resilience, cultural and natural heritage preservation and inclusiveness to create economic and social benefits for business and communities in urban and rural areas


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 USD 9.2 trillion in 2019 to USD 4.7 trillion in 2020. The contribution of tourism sector accounted for 10.4 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 USD 3 trillion in 2019 to USD 1.4 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 of the 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: September 2022


Yasmeen Yasim (Dr)
Lead Shepherd
Undersecretary, Tourism Policy and International Affairs Division,
Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Malaysia
Email: [email protected]
Program Director

Current Activities


The TWG had two plenary meetings in 2022. The 59th TWG Meeting was held virtually on 26 April, hosted by Indonesia, while the 60th TWG Meeting was held in person in Bangkok on 16-17 August, hosted by Thailand.

The 11th Tourism Ministerial was successfully held on 19 August 2022.

Publications 2021 -2022

  1. Exploring Innovative Digitalisation for Tourism MSMEs in Developing APEC Economies: What Can We Learn from Tourism's Response to COVID-19? (led by Australia, TWG 04 2020S – published in October 2021)
  2. Handbook on Developing Community-Based Entrepreneurship (CBE) in Rural Tourism through Digital Empowerment (led by Malaysia, TWG 01 2019A – published in February 2022)
  3. Tourism Access and Inclusion: Best Practice Guidelines for Tourism MSMEs in APEC (led by Australia, TWG 05 2020S – published in April 2022)
  4. Understanding the Role Played by ICT in Disaster Response of MSMEs (led by Peru, TWG 01 2020 – published in August 2022)


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