Rewriting the rule book

WTTC recently hosted its Global Summit 2022 in Manila, Philippines, where travel industry leaders from across the globe converged to discuss sustainable industry practices and the way forward.

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As the world is re-experiencing travel and reemerging after two difficult years, Julia Simpson, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), draws light to opportunities, challenges, and rediscover travel together. Here are some excerpts from the 21st Global Summit held in Manila.

Resilience

In times of crisis, true grit and resilience of the Travel & Tourism sector was seen. During the pandemic, airlines transported vaccines and PPE, airports became vaccination centres, cruise liners used their connections to help repatriate people, hotels opened their doors to the homeless. The pandemic showed how totally inter-reliant the industry is. Businesses and governments need each other to make travel happen.

Unsteady recovery

Now, recovery is in sight. It is not uniform, it is faltering, but it is recovery. In Asia-Pacific the reopening is just beginning. WTTC in its latest Economic Impact Research, which measures the value of Travel & Tourism to the global economy, shows that over the next 10 years Travel & Tourism is poised to have an average annual growth rate of 5.8 per cent. The sector’s growth will again outstrip the global GDP. In 2019, the sector contributed $9.6 trillion dollars to the global economy. That is over 10 per cent of the global GDP. 2021 was a stuttering recovery, regaining 22 per cent globally and getting back to a $5.8 trillion global business.

This year, the data shows that by the end of 2022, Travel & Tourism will have recovered to $8.35 trillion.

126 million new jobs

Over the next decade Travel & Tourism will create 126 million new jobs worldwide. In fact, one in three of every new job created will be related to the Travel & Tourism sector. Looking to this year and the next, WTTC forecast a brighter future with both GDP and employment set to reach pre-pandemic levels by next year. The recovery in 2021 was slower than expected due to the impact of the Omicron variant but mainly due to an uncoordinated approach by governments, which rejected the advice of the World Health Organisation, which maintained that closing borders would not stop the spread of the virus but would only serve to damage economies and livelihoods.

Integrated travel

Necessity is the mother of inventions. During the crisis, e-commerce cemented its position as the DNA of businesses. In travel, digital technology has leapfrogged some of the old analogue and manual systems. But the problem has been that digital solutions to COVID have been uncoordinated as nations made up their own rules to tackle the pandemic. If we are to survive another pandemic, we need to fully integrate travellers’ health status into their digital travel documents. A good example is the EU green travel pass that has now been adopted by 62 countries. We need to find a single system for the world.

Codes to resilience

It is not just a human virus that threatens us. As we accelerate our digital transformation, the threat from cybercrime has accelerated too. It has been estimated that cybercrime will grow by 15 per cent a year to cost the world US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025. WTTC launched a report to understand how cyber resilience is shaping the Travel & Tourism sector. The report shows that while the pandemic has propelled the world and the sector into a more digital future, with the opportunities provided by digitalisation, new challenges have emerged, especially in cybercrime. More than seven out of 10 (72 per cent) SMEs in the UK, the US, and Europe, have fallen victim to at least one cyberattack, and with SMEs representing 80 per cent of all Travel & Tourism businesses, mitigating cyber risk must remain a priority for the sector.

Triple crisis

We are facing a triple planetary crisis of climate, nature and pollution. Our carbon challenges are all different – whether you are a hotel, a cruise line or an airline. So, for the first time ever, our sector has a single, clear roadmap to deliver net zero by 2050. WTTC is launching a globally recognised set of sustainability indicators for hotels. Developed by the industry for the industry. The hospitality sustainability basics bring the best science down to the grassroots. If we all work together, we can support all life on this planet.

 

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