Adapting to market forces, responding to consumer demand and adopting new technologies will ensure the future of travel and tourism, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President & CEO David Scowsill said via his blog as he prepares to step down after a seven-year tenure.
According to Scowsill, sector growth has remained at around 4 percent a year despite the serious challenges it has had to face, including terrorism, climate change or the fourth industrial revolution. Asked if the sector is at risk due to technology, virtual reality and video conferencing, his response is a resounding ‘no’.
“Disruption has been part of the sector’s DNA for the past 20 years, and the sector has emerged stronger and more resilient for it,” he underlines.
Referring to the trends shaping the future of travel and tourism, Scowsill says it’s a matter of time before websites are replaced by apps on mobile devices and artificial Intelligence, machine learning and robotics are bound to impact jobs in the sector over time. “But others will be created. Service delivery in T&T relies on the people contact, it is the people that ultimately define the experience whether you are travelling for business or leisure.
“In fact, mobile connectivity will continue to dominate, and people will learn to switch off to guard their leisure time from the ‘always available’ mentality demanded by corporations,” he says, adding that the business models of the times are low cost carriers, TripAdvisor, online hotel aggregators and the sharing economy.
Scowsill concludes that the travel and leisure sector must ensure that growth is inclusive and environmentally sustainable and calls on all stakeholders to engage in Sustainable Development Goals.
“As I step down from WTTC I call upon the whole travel and tourism sector, from the CEOs I have represented to the government ministers I have worked with, to the 1.2 billion people who travel each year, to come together to ensure that travel, be it for business or leisure, continues to improve lives, protect the planet and be a force for peace, security and understanding in an ever more uncertain world.”