The second day of ITB Berlin 2009 proved even busier than the first as the travel industry united in strength to battle the downturn.
The World Travel & Tourism Council also chose day two to unveil the results of its 2009 Economic Impact Research, which is widely-regarded as one of the most accurate barometers of things to come.The research predicts that travel industry GDP will contract by 3.6% in 2009. And it is expected to remain weak in 2010 with only marginal growth, of less than 0.3%, currently predicted - on what will already be a weak 2009.
WTTC President & CEO, Jean Claude Baumgarten, said: “Lower fuel costs will make a difference, as will lower general inflation, which should reverse part of last year’s squeeze on households’ spending power. But given how widespread and deep the current recession is, it is inevitable that Travel & Tourism will continue to be affected.”
Baumgarten stressed the importance of energizing public and private sector partnerships. He said: “The industry is not expecting a bail-out. It needs a supportive framework from government to help it weather the current storm. And governments would also do well to recognise Travel & Tourism’s potential to energise the economy once the current crisis eases.”
“Nevertheless,” he added, “looking beyond the current crisis, Travel & Tourism is expected to resume its leading role in driving global growth, creating jobs and alleviating poverty.
“Emerging economies are expected to be the main engines of growth, generating hundreds of millions of new travellers from among the growing middle classes in countries like China, India and Brazil - boosting international travel, but also creating an increasingly vibrant domestic tourism sector.”
In developed countries, the increasing priority given to leisure activities can be expected to enhance demand for travel to existing and new tourism destinations once consumers regain confidence, while the popularity of short breaks - both domestic and international - will continue to expand in the medium to longer term.
Overall, the Travel & Tourism Economy is forecast to grow by 4% per annum in real terms over the next ten years. By 2019, Travel & Tourism will account for 275 million jobs, representing 8.4% of total employment across the world.
“This means that Travel & Tourism will continue growing in importance as one of the world’s highest priority industries and employers,” Baumgarten said.