Tourism boss predicts critical period for industry

WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo (Supplied)
WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo (Supplied)

Cape Town - Although future forecasts for travel and tourism are strong, it was important to seize the day relating to current conditions.

Gloria Guevara Manzo, the new President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) told Fin24 on Friday it was a critical time for travel and tourism.

"At the WTTC we continue to see strong growth in the industry, despite the various challenges like terrorism and security. The industry continues growing and is very resilient," she said.

In her view, ongoing terrorism and environmental issues make it even more important for roleplayers in the industry - both in the public and private sector - to work together.

"We are living in a very important time for the industry, because we are seeing different conversations at governmental level to try and create more security. This can include more requirements for visas and changing visa processes. That is why the WTTC and our conversation with different governments are so important," she said.

"I had the opportunity to work in the private sector and in government. I know how governments deal with tourism and travel and I know the approach of the private sector. I believe together we can find solutions to help us with security and at the same time creating jobs."

According to the WTTC’s Economic Impact Report 2017 travel and tourism grew by 3.3% in 2016, generating $7.6trn worldwide. This is 10.2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) when the direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account.

The travel and tourism sector created 292 million jobs in 2016. This is 1 in 10 of all jobs in the world.

"Tourism destinations must focus on security to remain resilient," emphasised Guevara.

"Of course the industry remains resilient as people will always continue to travel."

Visa options

In Guevara's view, one way of encouraging more travel and tourism - especially in long haul destinations like Southern Africa - is to use a regional visa system where access to more than one country is included in the same visa.

She uses a regional visa available for a number of Asian countries as an example.

Along with such a regional visa, it is important to develop tourism products around a region - supported by the necessary infrastructure - so that demand can follow. Here she also uses Asia as an example.

"I think there is a huge potential for South Africa and Africa as a destination. Its tourism strategy should also include looking at the potential of domestic travellers," she said.

Her home country of Mexico is a good example to her of where this strategy of domestic travel was successfully implemented.

"SA and countries around SA have unique tourism products to offer. That is why it is important to work together and the WTTC is more than happy to support initiatives by liaising between the private sector and governments," she said.

An example for her would be products for visiting Victoria Falls as well as SA.

"We would like to engage more in the southern African region and invite more people and organisations in the region to become members of the WTTC," said Guevara.

"At the same time the region can benefit from our research and sharing of information. We can, for instance, help get the region to quantify initiatives. For example, technology is now the driver to provide benefits. These benefits can be regarding security as well as the environment."

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