Across the 185 countries in the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), one-fifth of all new jobs last year were tourism-related, WTTC president Gloria Guevera Manzo told Canadian tourism leaders in Ottawa today. She also said tourism’s contribution to world GDP was growing at a faster pace than average, with 3.9 percent annual growth for the former, compared to 3.2 percent overall.
But this creates challenges that industry leaders must get right, she told the annual congress of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, meeting in Ottawa.
One example is growth in airline traffic. Worldwide passenger traffic is expected to double over the next two decades. “I don’t think the number of airports will double, do you?” she asked. “So how do we handle that? How do we get it right?”
Among WTTC initiatives are measures to encourage seamless travel while enhancing security, she said. One way is to harness technology, including facial recognition, to allow easier travel across borders. “I don’t know why I have to show my passport six times,” Manzo said.
Her organization has identified some 53 separate initiatives around the world to speed up passenger identification—by governments, the private sector, and public-private partnerships—but that patchwork means passengers may not have fewer hurdles than they face today.
“If we are going to facilitate airline growth, we don’t want people to wait six hours in lines. We are working to harmonize the implementation of biometrics,” she said.
The WTTC is also working on crisis preparedness, especially with governments. She noted that since 2001, crises have erupted more frequently but recovery time has decreased significantly. However, compared to terrorism activities, political disturbances take the affected tourism industry twice as long to bounce back from (22.2 months, on average, compared with 11.5 months). As a result, WTTC is working with governments to enhance response programs.
“Every single crisis impacts everyone,” Manzo said. “It doesn’t matter where it happens or when.”