Long term planning with communities at the centre; increasing resilience by preparing for crises; and transitioning to a seamless traveller journey through the use of technology have been highlighted during the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) first Europe Leaders Forum as three critical areas for action in order to ensure Europe’s Travel and Tourism sector maintains competitiveness.
The first WTTC Europe Leaders Forum took place in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday hosted by Turismo de Portugal and the Portuguese Ministry of Tourism.
In her opening address to the 150 leaders present, WTTC president and chief executive officer Gloria Guevara said: “Travel and Tourism accounts for 10.4 per cent of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs and has consistently outperformed the economy as a whole.
“Here in Europe, which attracts over half of global international arrivals, Travel and Tourism contributes 9.9 per cent to GDP, and in 2017 the sector grew more than twice as fast as the rest of the economy.
“IATA is forecasting an additional 1.5 billion passengers a year in Europe by 2036.
“The challenge for the future is to ensure that growth is maintained and is sustainable, providing benefits for local communities, be they in large cities or remote rural areas, and ensuring a great experience for the traveller.”
Guevara highlighted three areas of opportunity for Europe: Growth needs to be sustainable, planned for the long term and with communities at the centre of planning, to ensure that growth is inclusive and positively benefits the people of Europe.
Crisis preparedness, where destinations and the private sector work together to learn from previous experience and ensure an integrated approach to dealing with crises such as extreme weather events, health pandemics and terrorism.
Thirdly, improve efficiency and travel security through the use of technologies such as biometrics, which put a seamless traveller journey at the centre and expand capacity to capitalise on growth opportunities.
Ms Guevara added: “WTTC calls for action in these areas so that Europe maintains competitiveness and maximises future job creation through Travel and Tourism.
“Europe is a large and important tourism market but it is important that its leaders do not take this for granted. WTTC is delighted to pledge our support to European Travel and Tourism in this journey.”
WTTC’s Europe Leaders Forum is the first in a series of regional events to take place in 2018 and attracted over 150 leaders from across the region including Manuel Cabra, Minister of Economy, Portugal, Ana Godinho, Secretary of State for Tourism, Portugal, Elena Kountoura, Minister of Tourism of Greece, Peter Fankhauser, chief executive officer of Thomas Cook, Gianni Onorato, chief executive officer of MSC Cruises, and Kike Sarasola, president and founder, Room Mate Hotels and BeMate.com.
Gloria Guevara congratulated host country Portugal on impressive growth and a focus on investment and long term planning: “Portugal is a great example of one of Europe’s mature yet growing destinations.
Last year, tourism contributed 17 per cent of Portugal’s economy and supported one in five jobs. Travel and Tourism grew three times faster than the country’s economy as a whole.
Destination stewardship, crisis preparedness and travel security will be explored in more depth during WTTC’s Global Summit, which will take place in Seville, Spain, on April 3-4, 2019.