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Travel and tourism can make world more sustainable

Apr 26 2017 16:24
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The travel and tourism sector should lead the world in the “eradication of poverty, cleaning up the oceans, and protecting habitats”.

This was the message sent by David Scowsill, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), at the opening of the organisation's global summit in Bangkok on Wednesday.

Scowsill asked over 900 leading figures from the public and private sector attending the summit to stand up and make a real difference and to think about how they can transform the world. He called on the sector to lead the world in the “eradication of poverty, cleaning up the oceans, and protecting habitats”.

Travel & Tourism stimulates the economy by generating over $7.6trn globally, supporting over 292 million jobs, which is now 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. The sector has consistently grown faster than the global economy over the last six years.

Highlighted as a specific driver of three of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, business and leisure travel will help shape the global agenda for the next 15 years, according to Scowsill.

READ: Tourists increasingly switching to ‘safer’ destinations

“We are now seeing the recalibration of global politics, it is becoming clearer that the economic growth we have enjoyed over the past half century, and the globalisation that has driven it, is not working for everyone. Governments are calling into question some of the basic freedoms of people movement and trade, upon which all our businesses so depend,” said Scowsill.

Yet, in the face of terrorism and natural disasters, travel and tourism has continued to show resilience as people continue to move around the world.

“The fear engendered by dividing us into races or religions destroys the notion that each human being is unique. I believe wholeheartedly that closed borders lead to closed minds, that travel makes the world a better, more peaceful place, and that human encounters across cultures change us for the better," said Scowsill.

He emphasised that travel is not for a privileged few.

“This sector plays a vital part in the global quest for a more equal, inclusive and sustainable world. For our sector to continue to thrive we must focus on three elements; people need to be able to travel; we need successful businesses; and we need responsible practices,” said Scowsill.

* In June Scowsill will be leaving after six years at the helm of the organisation. During his tenure he championed the private sector views in high level governmental discussions and promoted the sustainable growth of travel and tourism.

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