G20 leaders urged to support travel industry

Travel industry leaders should target the G20 heads of government meeting in London at the end of this month to demand tourism be put at the heart of economic stimulus efforts.

United Nations World Tourism Organisation assistant secretary-general Geoffrey Lipman told delegates at German trade show ITB in Berlin: “We have always been a passive sector. Now we need to talk to the decision makers.

“As an industry we should send a strong message to the G20, saying ‘Put tourism in your stimulus packages. We are not asking for handouts, but for spending on travel infrastructure.”

He even suggested companies should lobby ministers when they travel. “The decision makers stay in our hotels,” he said. “They fly on our aircraft. We should speak to them.

“Every month the crisis is getting worse. Business has fallen off a cliff. We are a conservative organisation and predict something between zero growth and a 2% contraction in world tourism this year. But, personally, I will be happy if tourism falls no more than 5%.”

Economist Max Otte, author of a bestselling book in Germany entitled The Crash will Come, told ITB delegates the best secenario facing the world was “a very deep recession”.

But he suggested the most likely prospect is a “Japanese scenario” which he described as a “zombie world economy”. “Long stagnation, perhaps for 10 years, is the most likely scenario,” he said.

However, Otte added: “Tourism  is not the worst sector to be in. It generally grows faster than the overall economy and no doubt that will continue. Tourism could keep growing, but at a lot slower rate than in the past.”

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