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Global issue 12

Global InsightSustainable Tourism “Countries should understand the huge economic benefits of travel and tourism” IntervIew David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) The head of the World Travel & Tourism Council tellsGlobal that investing and cooperating in regional visa integration can offer enormous economic returns, and that reducing the tax burden on air travel will boost tourist numbers Global: Do you think governments around the world are heeding your Further measures to further facilitate inbound travel into India message that the travel and tourism industry should be given top would be additionally welcomed. priority in the creation of a competitive business environment that can It should also be ensured that taxation of the sector does not help bring about more substantial global economic growth? hinder the development of travel and tourism. While the govern- David Scowsill: Some governments ‘get it’. Mexico remains ment has made moves towards reducing the tax burden on the amongst the most committed to the economic and social benefits of industry, the increase in service tax on air travel in the 2011/12 travel and tourism. Indeed, under President Felipe Calderón’s guid- budget shows that more needs to be done in this area. ance, the meeting of the G20 world leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico, The sector in India is also facing a severe human resources this year recognised the importance of our industry – the first time shortage, which limits its ability to provide the necessary levels of it had been mentioned in the G20 world leaders’ communiqué. service to travellers. The public and private sectors need to work Other countries are less enlightened. Without naming names, there together to showcase the skills required and the benefits that can are some countries which have huge tourism economies yet imple- be gained from a career in travel and tourism. A growing industry ment policies to the detriment of the industry. It is the role of WTTC should also have the appropriate and sustainable physical infra- to make these countries understand the huge economic benefits of structure to support its growth. The government must ensure that in travel and tourism. tourism destinations there is sufficient rail, airport and other facili- ties to enable the industry to grow. One of WTTC’s strategic priorities is to encourage greater freedom of travel. What policies do you think governments should primarily Do you have confidence that China’s travel and tourism industry, be focusing on in this area, in view of the concerns many of them as it continues to expand, will observe and cooperate with interna- clearly have about security and the increasing political demands for tional norms of the industry being observed elsewhere? strict immigration controls? We see that the Chinese government, at both the national and re- While we recognise that countries have genuine concerns about gional level, recognises the importance of the industry and is keen safety and border sovereignty, there are many ways in which gov- to elevate its prominence at the international level, although we ernments can support more efficient travel without compromising have identified that this support and awareness also needs to be national security. Smarter visa policies can offer substantial eco- acknowledged at municipal levels. nomic returns in terms of visits, tourism receipts and jobs. Strategies for visa facilitation include investments in more The tourism industry in many countries stands accused of poor streamlined processes, improved delivery of information, devel- environmental management, inequitable distribution of water opment of technological solutions (such as e-visa programmes), and other unsustainable practices. What kind of work does WTTC and cooperation and collaboration with neighbouring regions. The undertake in the field of environmental regulation and ensuring Schengen visa area is a great example of this and we encourage the sustainability? steps that are being taken towards regional visa integration in other Together with the International Tourism Partnership and led by parts of the world, such as the recently announced single visa for a working group of leading hotel groups, we have created the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in South East Asia. Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative. The aim of the Initiative is to put forward a standardised hotel industry approach and lan- One of WTTC’s recent initiatives has been in India, where it’s been guage to calculating and reporting carbon emissions of a meet- providing a forum for the industry to work more closely with the ing or hotel stay. public sector. What do you think are the most urgent priorities for At the same time, we believe that sustainability involves more action in that country’s travel and tourism sector? than just the environment, and developing Tourism for Tomorrow The travel and tourism sector in India is growing and we’ve seen also needs to take into account other concerns. At the moment, recent developments such as the mutual easing of visa restrictions WTTC is undertaking a Human Capital Initiative. This is aimed at with Pakistan and the expansion of visas on arrival to include Ma- attracting young people to work in the industry to ensure that travel laysian and Thai visitors. We welcome these steps, which reflect and tourism has the necessary talent to make positive contributions positive government support for the country’s tourism industry. to the economy and society in the future. globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l21


Global issue 12
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