Lack of recognition of the economic role of tourism continues to hinder the sector’s growth potential and governments need to wake up and take action.
That is one of the messages from the chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council at the opening ceremony of WTTC’s 2014 Americas Summit in Peru.
In his opening speech at the regional Summit, being held in Lima, David Scowsill said bad decisions will continue to be made on visas, taxation and infrastructure development, unless government departments start recognising the importance of the sector and coordinate on policies.
Scowsill said the case for giving tourism more attention is unquestionable: “The financial contribution of our sector to the wellbeing of the global economy is both formidable and unarguable.
“The growth of our industry outstrips the growth of global GDP year after year.
“Yet governments continue to ignore this.”
Tourism in the Americas contributes US$2.1 trillion to GDP, supporting over 40 million jobs, according to WTTC figure.
In turn, the sector accounts for 6.8 per cent of exports and 4.9 per cent of investment and is worth US$238 billion.
Scowsill argued the outlook for the Americas is seen clearly by many of today’s global business leaders to have enormous potential.
He continued: “The region embraces the world’s largest tourism economy, namely the USA.
“It gives us the most tourism dependent market of the Caribbean.
“It contains some of the world’s most exciting growth opportunities here in Latin America.”
The first Americas Regional Summit took place in Riviera Maya in Mexico in 2012.
The joint declaration from the private and public sectors was taken by then-president Calderon of Mexico to the G20 meeting in Los Cabos, where he called upon the leaders to focus on the issue of visas and travel facilitation.
He personally wrote to all of the heads of state to seek their support for the industry.
More than 300 tourism leaders and government ministers, top executives from the public and private sectors, NGOs, opinion-formers from academia and the media have come together in Lima.
Over the course of a day and a half, through a series of keynotes, panel sessions and interviews, they will discuss the most pressing questions facing tourism in the Americas and to identify what needs to be done to ensure the long term sustainable future of the sector.
The Summit is called ‘Facing challenges, Finding Opportunities’.