Speaking at a World Routes 2016 Tourism Summit panel session in Chengdu, World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive David Scowsill said he expects a tough negotiation between the two parties following the UK vote this summer to leave.
However, he urged them to keep in mind the economic power of tourism and focus on keeping trade agreements, the ability to move freely on the continent, free visas, the Open Skies arrangement and security information sharing in order to safeguard the travel industry.
Scowsill said: “At the moment there’s a total lack of certainty about what will happen. The immediate economic fallout was considerable. The UK is the EU’s second largest economy and the fifth largest in the world so they must work together.”
He added while the UK stock market might have stabilised since the vote, the pound remains between about 10%-15% down against both the dollar and the euro.
Scowsill said another area of concern within the industry is ensuring there are enough people trained to work within it in anticipation of future growth. He added another 10 million people will be needed to join the workforce within the next 10 years alone.
Infrastructure will also need to grow in order to meet the anticipated demand, he added, highlighting the difference between China which has built 55 new airports in the last five years while UK politicians still haven’t decided whether to build another runway.
He also cited the continued threat to security from terrorism as vital. Scowsill said following the problems that Turkey has experienced this year, which have included terrorist attacks, its proximity to Syria and the failed coup, the country’s potential tourism growth was revised in August this year to -3.2%.
The need to continue thinking about environmental sustainability is also vital, while doing everything possible to ease the visa process is also vital, he added.
But Scowsill was optimistic that by working together, the world’s tourism industry could continue to thrive.
He said: “We must work together to ensure we emerge stronger from all the challenges we face; the public sector and the private sector; the east and the west and aviation and travel and tourism.”