014_Global12_InFocus_Tourism_5

Global issue 12

Global InsightSustainable Tourism “Tourism needs more supportive public policies” InTeRvIew Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Tourism creates jobs, provides employment to the poor, and with the right policy measures in place, helps protect the environment, says Taleb Rifai in this exclusive interview withGlobal. Countries around the world need to develop and strengthen their tourism policies, reduce visa constraints on the movement of people, and by so doing, create a tourism industry that can help lift them, and other sectors of their economy, out of the financial gloom Global: Do you think tourism may be able to contribute in any being of developing and developed countries worldwide, the sector still significant way to mitigating the employment and confidence receives surprisingly little recognition from many national governments. crises facing some of the more troubled eurozone economies, This matters because tourism needs the right policy framework especially Greece and Spain? in order for its full potential to be reached and this has to come from Taleb Rifai: Without a doubt. Despite an economically turbulent government. Tourism is a sector impacted by, and with impacts on, 2011, Europe was the strongest growing tourism region last year. numerous other economic activities. When policies are made with- Southern European destinations performed particularly well, out taking tourism into account – on planning, transport or taxes, for benefiting somewhat, but not only, from the shift of travel away example – the sector often suffers unnecessarily. from the Middle East and North Africa. In many of the countries At the same time, many of the challenges facing the tourism sec- of southern Europe facing the challenges of public deficits and tor can only be tackled with government support. Climate change, mounting unemployment, tourism, a major export sector, is pro- for example, is an area in which government leadership would cer- viding much welcome support, contributing to the balance of pay- tainly encourage private investment in green tourism. The tourism ments and creating jobs. Moreover, many destinations in Europe sector also looks to government to put the necessary regulations in have managed to maintain this positive performance in 2012. place in terms of standards and certification. We should not forget that tourism is one of the world’s most This is a long process, but we are happy to see governments in- labour-intensive sectors, employing one out of every 12 people creasingly acknowledging tourism’s potential. At its last meeting worldwide, especially young people. Tourism also has a large mul- in Mexico, and for the very first time, the G20 singled out tourism tiplier effect: for every one job created in tourism, 1.5 jobs are cre- as a sector that can contribute to current economic challenges. So ated in related sectors such as agriculture or transportation. we are on the right track. The emerging economies of China, India and Brazil would appear Are visa restrictions and increased security measures tending to be becoming leading players in travel and tourism – both as to become more onerous over time or do you see the prospect of hosts to more tourists and in sending large numbers of their own improvements that could lead to generally freer and more relaxed tourists to other countries. Are these countries about to take prime movement of people across the world? position in the future evolution of the tourism industry? The forces of globalisation have made international travel more ac- China, India and Brazil, as well as Russia, have emerged as impor- cessible to millions, as reflected in the estimated one billion interna- tant tourism markets, both as hosts to inbound tourists and sources tional tourists in 2012. Among the main drivers of this growth have of outbound tourists. China, for example, has seen its expenditure been rising incomes, a growing middle class and a liberalisation of on international tourism increase fourfold since 2000, positioning it many restrictions to travel. as the third biggest spender on international tourism in the world to- Nevertheless, millions more still face avoidable barriers. Re- day. India and Brazil are seeing equally impressive growth. In 2011 search by UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council alone, Brazil’s expenditure on travelling abroad grew by 30 percent. (WTTC) shows that unnecessarily complicated, lengthy and over- priced entry formalities, particularly visas, are creating barriers for Do you think tourism operators could do with a stronger show of many tourists, especially from rapidly growing economies. The support from their home governments in resolving some of the same research shows that improving these visa processes could trickier policy challenges? boost the number of tourists to G20 countries by an additional 122 Despite tourism’s vital contribution to the economic and social well- million, generating an extra $206 billion in tourism exports and 14 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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