Tourism officials from the 21 APEC member economies are preparing their industry infrastructure to host an expected doubling of international tourists in the region to 800 million people within the next decade. The potential payoff for job creation and growth is substantial, a new report meanwhile details.

International tourist arrivals in APEC economies have jumped 168 per cent to over 426 million during the last twenty years. The region stands a good chance to hit its target of 800 million by 2025 if actions conducive to growth are taken, according to a new industry report from the APEC Policy Support Unit.

Achieving APEC’s tourist arrivals goal, aided by collaboration to improve air connectivity and entry processes, would add USD 3.8 trillion dollars in GDP, create 21.1 million jobs and lift 15.2 million people out of poverty across the region, the report adds. But it will also strain the industry’s ability to cater to new visitors, particularly travel, tourism and hospitality operators with scarcer resources.

“APEC is deepening engagement with the travel and tourism sector to better understand the new challenges facing operators big and small, and establish conditions that enable them to harness growth opportunities,” said Jennifer Aguinaga, Chair of the APEC Tourism Working Group, which administers regional initiatives in support of travel and tourism development.

“We are focused on meeting infrastructure and human resource needs as tourism demand rises and changes in technology and business models transform the industry,” added Aguinaga, who is also with the National Travel and Tourism Office at the United States’ Department of Commerce.

To this end, APEC is working with the private sector to lift structural barriers to industry innovation, including the development of new products and niche markets. Easing bottlenecks to entrepreneurship and tourism operators owned by women, who account for 60 per cent of the industry workforce, is a parallel emphasis. Financing and digital divides are among them.

APEC economies are further boosting occupational standards and certification programmes, wider access to training and career development vital to encouraging young people to pursue long-term employment in tourism. They are also driving best practice adoption for mutual recognition in recruitment, retention and workforce planning among employers.