Over 1,100 delegates from 75 countries enjoyed a first day of thought-provoking debate and presentations at the 8th Global Tourism & Travel Summit in Dubai
, highlighted by a special inauguration ceremony attended by its patron, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister, UAE and Ruler of Dubai. (watch video from the event here)
President of the WTTC, Geoffrey Kent, welcomed His Highness Sheikh Mohammed at what is proving to be the most successful and influential WTTC Summit in its eight-year history.
The two topics ruminating most around delegates’ minds were how best the travel industry should weather the storm clouds of a global economic slowdown, and how it can most appropriately meet the need for growth, with that for environmental sustainability.
In his address to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Mr. Kent said: “Undoubtedly, there will be challenges in the short term due to the US economic slowdown, the stock markets’ volatility, higher fuel costs and concerns about climate change. However, the continued strong expansion in emerging countries - both as tourism destinations and as an increasing source of international visitors - means that the industry’s growth prospects remain bright into the medium term.”
The decision to host the summit in Dubai was both fitting and well-timed, its transformation in a few short years into one of the world’s most incredible tourist destinations mirroring the meteoric rise of the trade and tourism industry into one of the world’s most important industries.
Mr. Kent said: “We stand to learn much about the remarkable journey of this Emirate, about the vision, leadership and commitment that continues to propel Dubai into the future as world citizens.”
With the success, as delegates agreed universally, comes the need to take responsibility to protect the environment on which their industry so implicitly relies. And many of the exchanges of ideas throughout the day were dominated by how the decision-makers gathered can shape and lead the way for more sustainable travel - an issue that will become ever more inescapable as the growth of tourism continues. Or as the closing topic of day one poignantly put it: “The questions are tough - and they’re getting tougher”.