World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill is urging governments around the world to wake up to the potential of the sector to boost economic growth.
Breaking Travel News: What is on the agenda at the World Travel & Tourism Council in 2012?
David Scowsill: As I look forward to 2012, I see a growth industry that can be a substantial driver of economic growth at a time when it is most needed. This is not without its immediate challenges – sluggish growth in established economies, uncertainties with regard to the macroeconomic situation, and the recovery of key tourism economies from natural disasters among them.
But this is the role of WTTC, our partner organisations and everyone with an interest in the industry; to unite to tell the world of the enormous economic and social benefits that travel and tourism brings to the world community.
The WTTC sets its priorities after discussion with its professional staff, with a view to identifying those issues which most impede the operation or development of the sector.
At present, freedom to travel, that is issues which affect the rights and abilities of ordinary people to travel, and policies for growth, encouraging government to act in the interests of the travel community, are our top priorities.
‘Tourism for Tomorrow’, which summarises our concerns for the future of the travel and tourism sector, and how we act to ensure our children have the ability to have their lives enriched by the opportunity to travel, also remains key.
BTN: What do you see as being the single most important challenge facing the travel and tourism industry today? How are you addressing this?
DS: Unfortunately, there is not just one single challenge facing the industry. We are presently concerned about the meltdown of the Eurozone, the slow recovery in the United States, a potential emissions trading scheme trade war, and poor government action on visa policies. The impact of the Facebook initial public offering will also be something to watch out for.
The Rio+20 Summit, the oil price implications of conflict in Iran, and the London 2012 Olympic Games are also on the agenda.
The Global Travel & Tourism Summit is one of the highlights of the industry calendar
BTN: What are your expectations for your Global Summit, this year headed for Japan?
DS: The Global Summit is the pre-eminent event in the global tourism calendar each year and is attended by industry and government leaders from around the world. As such, the summit offers 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.
This year the 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, with Sendai City welcoming the first leg on April 16th-17th and Tokyo picking up the baton on April 17th-19th. High-level industry leaders representing every sector of the global travel industry will participate in speaker sessions, interviews and panel debates at both.
BTN: Can you comment on the findings of your recently released Economic Impact Research? What are the implications for the tourism industry?
DS: Travel and tourism continues to be one of the largest industries in the world. The total impact of the industry means that, in 2011, it contributed nine per cent of global GDP or a value of over US$6 trillion, and accounted for 255 million jobs. Over the next ten years this industry is expected to grow by an average of four per cent annually, taking it to 10 per cent of global GDP, or some US$10 trillion. By 2022, it is anticipated that it will account for 328 million jobs, which is one in every ten jobs on the planet.
Last year was one of the most challenging years ever experienced by the global industry. However, our latest research suggests that, despite political upheaval, economic uncertainty and natural disasters, the industry’s direct contribution to world GDP grew by nearly three per cent to US$2 trillion and directly generated 1.2 million new jobs. This was supported by a three per cent increase in visitor exports to US$1.2 trillion, with almost three per cent growth in capital investment, which rose to over US$0.7trillion.
BTN: What key trends do you predict in terms of consumer behaviour?
This will be the year of ‘SoLoMo’ - social, local, and mobile. Travel brands must have a mobile website optimised with fresh, local content and location-based offers; accurate and optimised listings on local mobile directories; and mobile engagement via SMS and social platforms.
For more information visit the official website.