“There will be no tourism tsunami.” These were the rallying cry words of Francesco Frangialli at the World Travel Market Ministers’ Summit at ExCeL London. The retiring Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization claimed that tourism will “survive with the support of its own strength. “We do not need a stimulus package for the industry,” he added. “When the time comes, tourism will contribute to the revival of the economy as a whole.
“For 2008, the outlook is not negative. International arrivals up to the end of August registered a steady increase of 3.8 per cent on an annual basis. Whatever happens, there will be positive growth in real terms
“The migration of the crisis from the financial economy to the ‘real’ economy presents various consequences for our sector. As far as households are concerned, it is clear that those that have suffered a sharp depreciation in their assets will be inclined to reduce consumption, including their spending on transport and leisure.
“Given such circumstances, we are worried but we are not giving into panic. Our conviction is that tourism will dampen the impact of the crisis and not accentuate or accelerate its effects.”
He pointed to the increased flows from emerging countries - for example 40million Chinese travelled to the rest of the world in 2007 and predicted more in 2008 and 2009.
And he said: “The need to travel, to engage in leisure, to go on holidays, is now so deeply ingrained in the minds of people that consumers do whatever they can to continue to do so.”
Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of World Travel Market, said: “Faced with unprecedented budgetary and economic cyclones, it would be easy and, perhaps convenient, to downgrade the problems confronting us.
“Poverty, sustainability, climate change are inextricably interwoven.
“Recession and shutdowns are a bit like heart attacks. Shocking and unwanted. Worrying for you - and for the family.
“But they are curable. Grit your teeth, take appropriate government action and the chances are that long term you’ll come out the other side in good shape for the future.Climate change, sustainability, poverty, these are terminal conditions.
“The world is on the critical list. Sustained, regular action by governments is what is needed, regardless of the tough financial climate.
“Tourism is a pivotal factor in helping tackle poverty.”