Travel and tourism is the best partner possible for governments to generate economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty, according to the woman overseeing the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, told 1,500 tourism leaders at the WTTC’s Global Summit in Seville that seven billion trips were made last year.
“Over the next decade our sector will generate an additional 100 million jobs, meaning that one in four new jobs created will be thanks to travel and tourism.
"Our sector is truly the best partner for governments to generate economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty.”
However, Guevara, who was previously a business executive and tourism secretary for Mexico, warned: “We cannot take historical strong performance and positive forecasts as a given,” adding: “If we don’t work on our future, the growth predictions could fail to materialise, impacting millions of jobs and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Technology was something to embrace, she said.
“Not long from now we will travel from the airport to our accommodation in a driver-less taxi, with a drone dropping off our luggage in advance.
“Virtual reality will enhance tourist experiences at historical sites by transporting visitors back in time, and live language interpretation will mean that nothing is lost in translation again.
"Data analytics will help to manage flows of people making overcrowding a flashback, and local communities will live from travel and tourism while helping us to protect natural and cultural assets.”
The WTTC estimates that last year saw 1.4 billion international arrivals and 4.4 billion people flying around the world.
Factoring in domestic tourism, there were about 7 billion trips last year, with Guevara adding: “And this is just the beginning.”
“As the travel and tourism sector continues to grow, new markets open up, and more people have the opportunity to travel, we need to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve by considering what the future of travel looks like, who the consumers of tomorrow will be and what they will expect. That is why we are here today, and why the theme of this year’s Global Summit is ‘Changemakers’.”