Travel in the Asia Pacific region is set for a period of continued growth, despite global challenges, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Speaking at the opening of the ITB 2014 event in Singapore, David Scowsill, president & CEO of the WTTC, highlighted the strength of the industry, but added that there is a need for continued investment in infrastructure and people.
“Overall, the industry is in great health and very resilient – tourism and travel in Asia grew by 6% last year,” he began, and continued by addressing three main factors that will define how the travel industry progresses this year and in the future: jobs, visas and the Ebola virus outbreak.
“One in 12 jobs in Asia are now in the travel industry – more than in secondary education and financial services,” Scowsill continued. “Indeed, there is a ‘talent crisis’ and a shortage of people in the right roles, which could affect our product over the next 10 years.”
He highlighted the need for investment in human capital – the industry is already 65 million people strong and created one million new jobs in the last year alone.
Extra pressure is being put on governments across the globe to ease visa laws – notably, the approach of letting passengers board a plane before approving their entry to their intended destination was questioned. As discussed at the G20 in 2012, freeing up visa application laws could create five million more global jobs.
The news of the Ebola virus spreading to the USA and Europe has been dealt with well by US and UK governments, Scowsill added, although he criticised Australia’s reaction – to reduce the number of visas given to visitors from affected countries. This “poor response” will not help dampen the panic around the outbreak, Scowsill concluded.
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