“Closing borders and jeopardising the freedom to travel is not the answer to the current security concerns. World leaders need to stand together and act now, with the support of the Travel & Tourism sector.”
That was the message from David Scowsill, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) at the start of the organisation’s annual Global Summit, in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday.
While giving a speech to the summit’s assembled private and public sector delegates, Mr Scowsill said that the combination of global terrorism and an international refugee crisis is creating an unprecedented threat, but closing our borders and jeopardising our freedom to travel is not the solution.
“We have to prevent an overreaction from governments”, he stressed and said the critical question is to understand “how can we keep our borders safe, while keeping those same borders open to business travellers and tourists?”
He reminded delegates of the impact of the US border tightening after the September 11, 2001, attacks, which led to a “lost decade” of tourism income that cost the United States some $600 billion.
WTTC advocates improving international intelligence and security agency cooperation, better use of technology, and better communication as ways of combatting the problem. Such action will take global agreements and a commitment to sharing data — something which can only happen with concerted international effort.
“World leaders need to stand up together and to act now. And it is our role as Travel & Tourism leaders to make that happen”, he said.
Globally, the Travel & Tourism sector contributes $7.2 trillion annually, almost 10 percent of the world’s GDP, and supports one in eleven of all jobs on the planet, an exceptionally resilient performance despite many challenges.
Scowsill also highlighted how the sector is force for good in the world: “Travel and Tourism brings people together. It puts a smile on people’s faces. It alleviates poverty. It provides employment across all levels of society, and in some of the most remote places on earth. It broadens horizons and breaks boundaries.”
The Global Summit, which celebrates 25 years of WTTC’s sector advocacy, ends on Thursday.