G20 recognises importance of tourism

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The G20 world leaders have recognised the importance of travel and tourism for the first time and pledged to work towards easing visa regulations.

The Leaders’ Declaration from the annual meeting of the G20 held in Mexico on 18-19 June stated; “We recognise the role of travel and tourism as a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development, and, while recognising the sovereign right of states to control the entry of foreign nationals, we will work towards developing travel facilitation initiatives in support of job creation, quality work, poverty reduction and global growth.”

Photo by Gina Smith
Photo by Gina Smith

This is the first time the tourism industry has been included in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration and is the culmination of efforts by the industry, led by UNWTO and WTTC, to encourage world leaders to see the potential of the industry.

“We commend the G20 world leaders for recognising the importance of travel and tourism as a driver of economic growth and job creation for the first time and stand ready to support all efforts by the G20 countries in this respect. This is a significant success for the industry, facilitated by the relationship between our two organisations and widely supported throughout the industry. By facilitating visas, the G20 countries stand to gain five million jobs at a time of rampant unemployment across the world. These are in addition to the hundreds of millions of direct and indirect jobs already being supported every day by the sector,” said a joint statement by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and WTTC President & CEO David Scowsill.

According to the WTTC the industry directly will contribute US$2 trillion in GDP and 100 million jobs to the global economy in 2012. When the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account, travel and tourism is forecast to contribute some US$6.5trn to the global economy and generate 260 million jobs – or one in 12 of all jobs on the planet.

Research by UNWTO and WTTC, released at the T20 Ministers Meeting last month, showed that the G20 could boost their international tourist numbers by an additional 122 million, generate an extra US$206bn in tourism exports and create over five million additional jobs by 2015 by improving visa processes and entry formalities.

Findings showed that of the 656m international tourists who visited G20 countries in 2011, an estimated 110m needed a visa, many of whom were deterred from traveling by the cost, waiting time and difficulty of obtaining a visa. According to the UNWTO, facilitating visas for these tourists could stimulate demand, spending and create millions of new jobs in the G20 economies.

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