The launch of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Korea today saw former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and WTTC President David Scowsill join forces to warn western governments not to miss out on the future powerhouse of global wealth creation - Travel and Tourism.
The two-day Summit, which featured a keynote address by former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is looking at how to best exploit the huge projected growth in tourism throughout China, Korea and the wider Pacific region, while urging developed Western nations not to miss out by introducing taxes which will lose more money than they generate.
Revealing how Asia’s travel and tourism sectors is forecast to grow six per cent per annum over the coming decade, Mr Scowsill said: “It is no accident that we are here today for our first Asia Summit. Of the 70 million new jobs Travel & Tourism will stimulate globally by 2023, two thirds – some 47 million - will be in Asia.
“This phenomenal growth will be driven by increasing wealth among Asia’s middle classes, particularly in China. The United Nations describe it as a historic shift, the likes of which has not been seen for 150 years. Asia’s middle class is forecast to triple to 1.7 billion by 2020.”
The need for the West to maintain its market share of the global Travel and Tourism industry was not lost ion Mr Blair, who said: “As this power shifts to the East, the West is going to have to discover a new partnership with the East. The US remains for now the most powerful country but it is likely in time China will become the most powerful country in the world.”
Mr Blair also emphasized the need for all national governments to embrace the Travel and Tourism industry as a force for good – not just economic growth: “It is an industry that can help bring about more peace and understanding. Travel is important because then you see what people have in common.”
Globally, the future continues to look positive with the World Travel and Tourism Council predicting 3% growth this year and generating US $6.8 trillion – 9% of global GDP - as well as employing more than 266 million people and accounting for 1 in every 11 jobs on the planet.
Longer term, the prospects are even brighter, with the industry expected to grow an average 4.4% per annum, exceeding forecasts in other major sectors such as manufacturing, retail and financial sectors.
Although the future of the industry looks secure, Mr Scowsill warned the 500 leading Travel and Tourism business leaders at the Summit that success could not be taken for granted and that every effort must be made to warn national governments of negative overall effect to their economies by the introduction or expansion of tax schemes to exploit this growth.
Mr Scowsill singled out the UK as an example. “The UK’s Airline Passenger Duty is the worst culprit, destroying UK GDP by around $6.3 billion per annum and costing some 90 thousand jobs.
“Taxing the tourist does not lead to positive economic growth – in fact it leads to the opposite. We intend to promote this message heavily whilst we are here in Asia.”