As travel and tourism looks set to continue growing steadily for the next decade, the challenges lie in managing that growth effectively and responsibly, rather than the opportunities being squandered because barriers are allowed to persist.
In the light of the ongoing debate on how the travel industry is impacting climate change, the theme of this month’s annual World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit, Breaking Barriers – Managing Growth, is particularly relevant.
TTN’s KEITH J FERNANDEZ pursues the responsible growth agenda with WTTC chairman and intrepid explorer Geoffrey Kent. Excerpts from an interview:
What do you hope this year’s summit will achieve?
Travel and tourism is clearly booming. WTTC research suggests that demand for global travel and tourism will continue to grow at a steady annual rate of 4.2 per cent over the next ten years. This growth creates a new set of challenges – how will the industry manage this growth?
How will companies organise themselves? How will govern-ment respond to infrastructure needs? This presents a necessary obligation for the industry to become a global responsible citizen and for this reason the theme of this year’s summit is Breaking Barriers – Managing Growth.
Breaking barriers because the public and private need to allow this growth to reach its full potential to provide economic growth and jobs worldwide but we must also manage this growth so we can answer human resources needs towards environmental obligation. We need to create a framework in which the entire industry participates in the challenges created by the environmental needs of this century.
High-powered summits are often criticised as being just talking shops with very little concrete results. How do you react?
This may be true of some conferences but the reason of the success of the Global Travel & Tourism Summits is that we not only provide the ideal platform to encourage leaders to broadcast a message of strength and unity for the industry but our unique in-the-round format allows public and private sector leaders to express their views, exchange ideas and return to their organizations with a new perspective. This is, after all, how the world will progress and encourage an industry which generates 10 per cent of GDP and creates 230 million jobs, into the role that it needs to play.
Pg 59: Environmental consciousness will not stop tourists from travelling