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David Scowsill: Why does China and the world need tourism?

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Hainan, China (eTN) – This year’s edition of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Summit is well on its second day, but it was the speech of its president and chief executive, David Scowsill‘s speech that is making the news. For one very clear reason – he laid out the answer to the basic fundamental question as to why conference such as the 2014 Global Tourism Summit take place in the first place: Why does the world need travel and tourism?

Scowsill, who addressed summit delegates following the event’s opening ceremony held yesterday (24 March 2014), addressed the question on four fronts – China (which is this year’s summit host country), global economy, governments and the world.

Why does the Chinese economy need travel and tourism?
According to Scowsill, China’s travel and tourism businesses support 65 million jobs and the sector contributes 9 percent of China’s GDP. China’s travel and tourism is forecast to keep growing at over 7 percent each year for the next 10 years.

“By the middle of the next decade China’s travel and tourism industry will employ over 90 million people – that will be one in every nine jobs in China. It does make China crucially important for our industry. But is also demonstrates the mutual dependency and importance of our industry to the world’s fastest-growing economy.”

Why does the Global economy need travel and tourism?

According to the WTTC president and CEO, the financial contribution of travel and tourism to the wellbeing of the Global Economy is unarguable, but the challenge is still there to educate governments whenever political parties change.

“The growth of our industry outstrips the growth of global GDP year after year. In fact, WTTC forecasts that travel and tourism will grow by 4.4 percent per year – every year for the next 10 years – far higher than global GDP which will grow at 3.5 percent. By 2024 our industry will be generating over $11 trillion and will have created 75 million new jobs.”

Why do governments also need travel and tourism?
“Governments need this industry’s contribution to trade,” Scowsill argued, noting that WTTC will be presenting research during today’s sessions “that demonstrates the importance of our industry to global trade.”

He added: “Governments need us to support the processes of nation building and disaster recovery. They need us to provide bridges to increase international cooperation, and to help foster greater understanding between societies.”

According to him, when governments listen, they learn that we have a powerful case to make that helps them achieve their political goals – not just their economic ones. “Too many governments around the world have still failed to acknowledge the vast potential of our industry. This leads to deficiencies like destructive border policies, exorbitant taxes and poor long-term infrastructure planning. All these prevent progress and growth.”

Why does the world needs travel and tourism?
Scowsill said: “In a rapidly changing and increasingly unpredictable world, everyone needs certainties that they can trust; a few unshakeable truths. The world more than ever needs leaders that can be trusted. It needs industries that work positively for the good and benefit of all – not just the few. Industries that are capable of building a future that is sustainable and dependable. This is the power of travel and tourism.”

He noted that the significance of travel and tourism as a “force for good’ has increasingly become recognized by some key world leaders. “At last year’s Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, I was struck by the strength and simplicity of President Bill Clinton’s analysis and a message that was echoed six months later at our Asia Summit by Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.”

Scowsill is convinced that “travel and tourism has a unique role to play as a driver of cultural understanding, mutual respect, diplomacy, economic development and peace-keeping. “We are an industry that is mindful of its responsibilities to protect the planet and its precious assets. We are proud to provide prosperity and jobs for millions. We can be a force for good in a problematic and unpredictable world. We asked a number of global business leaders from other major industries about their perception of Travel and Tourism as a ‘force for good.’”

Scowsill also said: “It is widely accepted that in the next 10-15 years China will overtake the United States, to become not only the biggest travel and tourism contributor in the world… but indeed the biggest economy in the world. Therefore, it is good timing that we return to China to continue our dialogue about the importance of travel and tourism to the Chinese economy and to the global economy.”

On that note, the WTTC president stated that this year’s Global Summit intends “to re-affirm Travel and Tourism’s economic contribution across the world;” “to explain the unique power of the sector in making a positive difference;” and “to urge governments and private sector companies to ensure the benefits of travel and tourism can be deliberately spread across all destinations and communities.”

Source: Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief

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