This is far too important an industry not to speak with one cohesive voice

In conversation with…David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council*

EP working with the British Hospitality Association to promote thought leadership


David was part of a discussion which looked at the drivers for growing international competitiveness in hospitality and tourism, and the qualifiers for success, alongside Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation, with whom the WTTC works closely. He spoke about the global opportunities for tourism and how different countries are seeking to improve their ability to attract tourists. He cited Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón’s, recognition for the travel and tourism industry as part of his leadership of the G20; the sector was on the agenda for the first time at the Summit held this week. David also spoke of the challenges this increasing global competition bought to the UK travel and tourism sector.

“There is a united belief in travel and tourism amongst leaders; we believe in the economic benefits that the industry brings to people and places around the world because we see them every day. Everyone is here to seize such opportunities in these times of rapid change.

Travel and tourism is the third largest industry in the world. At 9% of global GDP it is larger than: automotive manufacturing (8%), mining (8%), chemicals manufacturing (7%). I often refer to banking, at 11%, as a sub-set of financial services, which accounts for 18%. We have to get better at putting across the importance of this industry.

The WTTC’s objective is to analyse the hard economic facts that are the foundation upon which to position our messages to governments around the world. We analyse the industry on its total impact – direct, indirect and induced.

In 2011, travel and tourism accounted for 9% of GDP – a total of US$6 trillion. We supported 255 million jobs, or one in every 12 jobs on the planet. The UNWTO forecast reports that by the end of 2012 we will reach 1 billion international arriving tourists. One seventh of the world’s population will have crossed international borders as tourists in a single year, and by 2022, travel and tourism will account for 10% of global GDP, US$10 trillion and 1 in 10 jobs.

WTTC and UNWTO are close partners now. The industry’s leading organisations, including the World Economic Forum and the International Air Transport Association have committed to work in a coalition for the common good, through co-ordinated communication, open sharing of information and coalescing around key global issues where effecting change is a priority. We recognise that we can no longer go it alone.

Our goal is to coordinate research, messages and lobbying. There is an opportunity to solidly demonstrate the partnership we have in travel and tourism to convey to our leaders the economic strength of the industry and the path forward for ensuring the growth.

We are seeing important steps to remove barriers to tourism growth. President Obama’s Executive Order earlier this year was a significant step in bringing a number of government agencies together to remove visa restrictions on Chinese travellers. President Calderon, in his leadership of the G20, fully appreciates the strength of the industry and has made travel and tourism a strategic priority. He is a real visionary.

In the UK, despite the headwinds faced, including visas, Airport Passenger Duty, infrastructure and VAT, the industry is still growing. However, the UK travel and tourism industry is not very co-ordinated in its approach to government; we observe that the private sector is much better at collaborating in other countries. So the question is what can act as a catalyst to bring the industry together? We need to identify the top three or four messages to bring forward. This is far too important an industry not to speak with one cohesive voice.”

* The World Travel & Tourism Council is the forum for global business leaders in Travel & Tourism. With the Chairs and Chief Executives of more than 100 leading companies as its members, WTTC has a unique mandate to raise awareness of the industry’s economic and social impact. The WTTC is working across the world to remove barriers to the growth of travel and tourism, such as taxation and visas, are removed. The WTTC recently presented research which showed that improvements to visa processes could result in an increase in travel and tourism, which could create over 5 million new jobs across G20 countries.

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