WTTC warns against pre-Olympics complacency

At a meeting convened by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), industry leaders discussed the need to capture the considerable growth opportunities which have emerged for UK Travel & Tourism.  According to research by WTTC and Accenture, Travel & Tourism represents 9.4 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product and accounts for 2.6 million jobs. 

In 2006, global Travel & Tourism is expected to grow by 4.6 per cent, continuing at a rate of 4.2 per cent per annum over the next ten years.  Globalization and increasingly strong economies in many developed and developing countries, including China and India, along with improved accessibility and information for travellers continue to stimulate tourism growth.  UK Travel & Tourism Demand, currently sixth largest in the world, is expected to grow at 3.1 per cent per annum over the next ten years.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC President said, “Our research shows UK Travel & Tourism is in a strong position and is poised to do well over the coming decade. However, there is no room for complacency. As more and more governments appreciate Travel & Tourism as a key social and economic driver, competitive stakes will rise.”

WTTC’s Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) research is undertaken annually for 174 countries with research partner Oxford Economic Forecasting (OEF).  Since 2006, the research has been sponsored by Accenture.

According to WTTC, the UK’s ability to take advantage of the upcoming 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games depends on immediate and synchronized action by the private and public sectors to address key issues.

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Mr Baumgarten highlighted the fact that the UK, particularly London, is perceived by many travellers to be an expensive destination, and he called for a coordinated and well-funded marketing effort to assure visitors that they will receive value for their money.  He also emphasized that better regulation, intelligent taxation and a wider understanding of Travel & Tourism’s economic value amongst ministries and Regional Development Agencies would further support the industry’s growth.

“Most importantly, if the full potential of Travel & Tourism growth in the UK is to be realized over the coming years, it is crucial that infrastructure is developed accordingly.  This includes airport capacity, accommodation stock and transport infrastructure,” continued Mr Baumgarten.

Talking about the impact of the 2012 Games on UK Travel & Tourism, Mr Baumgarten said, “It is clear that the Olympics will provide a huge opportunity for the UK.  Nevertheless, clear planning and resource allocation are necessary to ensure that an Olympic legacy for tourism is created.”

Paul Deighton, Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said “Hosting the Games in 2012 is a huge opportunity for the UK tourism trade.  It will be a catalyst for the industry as a worldwide global event, with millions of visitors expected to the UK. The event will showcase London and the UK and we will provide a fantastic welcome for the world.  Hosting the Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not pass us by.”

“Insight into how and where the Travel & Tourism industry is growing is critical for companies that want to improve their performance and take advantage of that growth,” said Alex Cruz, Managing Partner, Accenture’s European Travel Services practice. “As all segments - airlines, lodging companies and tour operators - work to improve their bottom lines, having usable data about both the industry and their own business is essential. The travel industry’s high performers will be those that can use industry and customer data to make meaningful decisions.”

Held on board the Silver Cloud cruise ship, today’s special WTTC meeting signified the growing stake of cruise lines in the UK’s Travel & Tourism economy. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Chairman, Silversea Cruises, commented, “Silversea Cruises is delighted to host this prestigious event.  Cruising is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors offering a diverse, high-quality and innovative experience for more than 15 million passengers a year. The United Kingdom is now the world’s second largest cruise market, with more than 1 million passengers in 2005.”

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