WTTC chief urges industry to lead the way

Scowsill ... more cooperation from governments will be key for tourism growth

DAVID SCOWSILL, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling on the global travel and tourism industry “to grasp the mantle of leadership in order to influence”.

At the WTTC 13th Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, Scowsill urged the industry to not only influence at an industry level but at world level, not only within government chambers, but in boardrooms, in the media, amongst employees and within supply chains.

The two-day summit saw Government Ministers and public and private sector executives from all around the world come together in Abu Dhabi to discuss the many issues and challenges facing the industry in the immediate and long term.

The title of this year’s Global Summit was ‘A Time for Leadership’, saw industry, national and world leaders – from chairmen and chief executives to presidents and government ministers gather to discuss the industry’s responsibilities as it plans for future growth in international travel, whilst meeting its moral and commercial obligations to people, the planet and profits.

Over the next 10 years, travel and tourism GDP is set to grow by 4.4 per cent on average per year, outpacing growth in the wider economy and other industries, notably retail and public services. By 2023, travel and tourism’s total economic contribution is forecast to account for 10 per cent of global GDP, $10.5 trillion dollars and one in 10 jobs. Total travel and tourism employment is forecast to increase by more than 70 million jobs over the next decade, with two-thirds of those additional jobs in Asia. Asia will continue to lead growth, with annual average growth of over six per cent, driven by increasing wealth among its middle classes.

By 2023, WTTC forecasts that China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest travel and tourism economy, measured in total GDP terms and the size of the outbound market.

“The private and public sector must come together and focus on long term strategies, infrastructure and initiatives, not just short term goals, to ensure that our industry is ahead of the growth curve,” he added.

Scowsill explained that, by 2050, there will be three billion people enjoying middle class wealth – meaning more middle class consumers, enjoying more travel, creating more jobs and generating more GDP. He said the growth opportunities ahead should be a wake-up call to the private and public sector to join together and plan sustainable, long term strategies: “The industry needs to work together to drive investment in infrastructure, which is conducive to sustainable growth, not just now, but for the next 10, 25, even 50 years in order to ensure that travel and tourism continues to make a vital economic contribution to global GDP and jobs and that the new wave of middle class consumers from emerging markets can cross borders with ease”.

In his closing speech, Scowsill also explained that lobbying Governments to stop seeing tourists as a soft target for generating treasury cash would remain a key central strategic priority for Travel & Tourism over the next year: “WTTC will develop finance models over the next 12 months which will demonstrate, country by country, the negative economic impact on travel and tourism of punitive taxation on travellers. This data will be used to show government leaders, that taxing the tourist does not lead to positive economic growth – in fact, it leads to the opposite”.

Scowsill also said that visa facilitation would very much remain on its agenda for the next year: “Too many people still find it too complex and too difficult to cross borders as international tourists. Governments need to balance security needs with a change in mindset and implement visa waiver and trusted traveller programmes. The travel and tourism industry needs to continue to lobby for change and demonstrate to individual countries the economic opportunities, which will be generated, through improvements to visa processes”.

He also confirmed that WTTC will continue to campaign for more winds of change in airline de-regulation to allow carriers to operate more efficiently across national borders and provide greater choice to consumers.

The 14th Global Summit will take place in April 2014 where WTTC will move to Sanya in China.