Finding stability in turbulent times

Scowsill... testing times for the travel and tourism industry

Travel & and tourism leaders from across the globe get ready to gather in Sendai and Tokyo from April 16 to 19 to discuss and debate some major issues facing the industry at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 12th Global Summit

THE Global Summit, the pre-eminent event in the global Travel & Tourism calendar will open doors in Sendai to tackle some of the biggest questions in the industry with the theme of ‘Leading a Dynamic Industry through Turbulent Times’ will offer an unparalleled platform for speakers from within and beyond our industry to share their views with an international audience of prominent business, financial, political and media leaders.

As the industry’s direct contribution to the global economy is expected to pass $2 trillion in GDP and 100 million jobs, Travel & Tourism set for a milestone year. David Scowsill, president & CEO of WTTC, speaks to TTN about how the face of tourism is set to change.

With UNWTO prediction One billion arrivals in 2012, what is the biggest challenge facing the global tourism industry today?

WTTC will be monitoring some key issues in 2012 that may affect our growth forecasts for the year. Firstly there is the Euro zone but we are also watching the Chinese economy closely. There are some concerns amongst economists that the country may experience a ‘hard landing’.  A commercial property crash and external weakness could lead to banking sector stress leading to falling share and property prices. In short if the bubble bursts, prices will fall, income growth is held back and Travel & Tourism spending goes down. This will affect not only China, but also other economies who are banking on growth in Chinese visitors. 

2012 is also election year in several countries.  We will have to see with interest whether the recent Executive Order by President Obama has any real impact, and what the lack of policy decision making which usually accompanies campaigning does to the economy in the States. 

The Arab Spring continues and the commitment of the new governments to Travel & Tourism is still not clear. While promises of investment and marketing are on one hand, there are concerns of new Islamic regimes and their impact on the other. 

And finally, bringing aviation into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme which poses the increasing risk of a trade war. Many countries are saying they will not pay including China who has banned its airlines from paying while the Gulf countries are complaining that their airlines are being penalised even though they have modern, efficient fleets and thus is becoming clear that a regional solution to emissions is not going to work.

All of this comes at a time when our economies need Travel & Tourism most. 

What are your expectations for tourism in the Middle East region?

In the Middle East, where civil unrest and violence in some countries continues, growth will be more subdued (three per cent), although there are stark differences at country level. Qatar will grow fastest at 13.2 per cent while Syria will likely see another dramatic fall, estimated at 20.5 per cent, as the political situation worsens, increasing concerns over security. It is worth noting that 14 per cent of all international arrivals in the Middle East in 2010 were for Syria, the second most important destination in the region after Saudi Arabia.

What is on the agenda at the World Travel & Tourism Council 2012 in Japan?

This year’s Global Summit will tackle some of the biggest questions in the industry with the overall theme of ‘Leading a Dynamic Industry through Turbulent Times’. The Summit will be held in two locations to mark recent significant events in Japan:

In Sendai City (April 16-17, 2012): A year after the Tohoku region was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the WTTC Global Summit will open with a dinner in Sendai City, the focal point of last year’s disaster recovery efforts. The Summit will commence with a Welcome Dinner on the evening of April 16 followed on April 17 by three sessions on disaster recovery and the place of Asia in world Travel & Tourism.

Tokyo (April 17-19, 2012): In the evening of April 17, the Global Summit will continue in Tokyo with its opening ceremony including WTTC’s prestigious Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Hot topics are on the agenda for April 18 and 19, which are designed to inform delegates how to effectively lead the industry through difficult times. Sessions include: Japan: Where Now Where Next; Our Rapidly Changing World; Airlines: Their Role & Ever-Changing Nature; Our Story: Speaking with one Voice; Understanding Tomorrow’s Consumers; and Tourism for Tomorrow.

High-level industry leaders representing every sector of the global Travel & Tourism industry will participate in speaker sessions, interviews and panel debates. Some of the speakers are:

Atsutoshi Nishida, chairman of Japan Host Committee; chairman & CEO, Japan Travel and Tourism Association; chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation

Chen Rong, CEO, China International Travel Service

Christopher Nassetta, president & CEO, Hilton Worldwide

Fujio Cho, chairman of the Board, Toyota Motor Corporation

Gordon Wilson, president & CEO, Travelport Limited

James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways

Kaori Enjoji, Tokyo bureau chief, CNBC

Nick Ross, presenter, BBC

Hon Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism in the Cabinet of South Africa

MutsutakeOtsuka, vice chairman of Japan Host Committee; vice chairman & chairman of Committee on Tourism, Keidanren

Willie Walsh, former CEO of BA, current CEO International Airlines Group

Shinichiro Ito, president & CEO, All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.

SizaMzimela, CEO, South African Airways

TalebRifai, secretary-general of the UNWTO

Hon Najib Mohamed Balala, Minister for Tourism, Kenya

What travel trends do you predict for 2012?

Travel & Tourism is set for a milestone year as the industry’s direct contribution to the global economy is expected to pass $2 trillion in GDP and 100 million jobs. The global Travel & Tourism industry will grow by 2.8 per cent in 2012, marginally faster than the global rate of economic growth, predicted to be 2.5 per cent. This rate of growth means that Travel & Tourism industry is expected to directly contribute $2 trillion to the global economy and sustain some 100.3 million jobs. When the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account, Travel & Tourism is forecast to contribute some $6.5 trillion to the global economy and generate 260 million jobs – or one in 12 of all jobs on the planet.

When international travellers are expected to surpass one billion for the first time in 2012, the industry will pass two other major milestones: a direct contribution of $2 trillion to the world economy and 100million jobs. But these numbers are dwarfed by the total forecast contribution of our industry –$6.5 trillion to the global economy and 260 million jobs.

Over the medium-term, the prospects of the industry are even more positive with average annual growth expected to be four per cent through to 2022 by which time Travel & Tourism will employ 328 million people – or one in 10 of all jobs on the planet.