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 the travel industry is ahead of the growth curve, says David Scowsill, president & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
In his speech at the 13th WTTC Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, Scowsill said that, by 2050, there will be 3 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 & 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,” Scowsill said.
By 2023, WTTC forecasts that Travel & Tourism’s total economic contribution will account for 10 percent of global GDP, $10 .5 trillion US dollars and 1 in 10 jobs. Total travel & Tourism employment is forecast to add over 70 million jobs over the next decade, with two-thirds of those additional jobs in Asia. Asia will continue to lead growth of the industry, with annual average growth of over 6 percent.
Scowsill also said that lobbying governments to stop seeing tourists as a soft target for generating treasury cash would remain a key central strategic priority for travel and 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 travelers. 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 said.
Visa facilitation will remain on the WTTC's 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 programs. The Travel & 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."
Scowsill also said 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.
Scowsill said: "The art of leadership is to create a vision, to embrace that vision and drive it to completion. As leaders in our industry, we must continue to work together to drive our vision and to elevate the cause of Freedom to Travel, to influence policies for growth and boldly plan for a Tourism for Tomorrow. The message is clear going forwards. Travel & Tourism has a vital role to play in shaping the future and the industry needs to be at the forefront of shaping that future".