“The private and public sector must come together and focus on long term strategies, infrastructure and initiatives, not just short term goals, to ensure that our industry is ahead of the growth curve,” World Travel & Tourism president David Scowsill has argued.
In his closing speech at the 13th WTTC Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, Scowsill explained that, by 2050, there will be three billion people enjoying middle class wealth – meaning more middle class consumers, enjoying more travel, creating more jobs and generating more GDP.
He said the growth opportunities ahead should be a wake-up call to the private and public sector to join together and plan sustainable, long term strategies: “The industry needs to work together to drive investment in infrastructure, which is conducive to sustainable growth, not just now, but for the next ten, 25, even 50 years in order to ensure that tourism continues to make a vital economic contribution to global GDP and jobs and that the new wave of middle class consumers from emerging markets can cross borders with ease”.
By 2023, WTTC forecasts tourism’s total economic contribution will account for ten per cent of global GDP, $10.5 trillion US dollars and one in ten jobs.
Total tourism employment is forecast to add over 70 million jobs over the next decade, with two-thirds of those additional jobs in Asia.
Asia will continue to lead growth of the industry, with annual average growth of over six per cent.
The WTTC 13th Global Summit has seen government ministers and public and private sector executives from all around the world come together in Abu Dhabi over the last two days to discuss the many issues and challenges facing the industry in the immediate and long term.
In his closing speech, Scowsill also explained that lobbying governments to stop seeing tourists as a soft target for generating treasury cash would remain a key central strategic priority for tourism over the next year: “WTTC will develop finance models over the next 12 months which will demonstrate, country by country, the negative economic impact on tourism of punitive taxation on travellers.
“This data will be used to show government leaders, that taxing the tourist does not lead to positive economic growth – in fact, it leads to the opposite.”
Scowsill also said that visa facilitation would very much remain on its agenda for the next year: “Too many people still find it too complex and too difficult to cross borders as international tourists. Governments need to balance security needs with a change in mindset and implement visa waiver and trusted traveller programmes.
“The tourism industry needs to continue to lobby for change and demonstrate to individual countries the economic opportunities, which will be generated, through improvements to visa processes.”