Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Time to recognise tourism's substantive value - Bartlett

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett addressing the UNWTO plenary session.

Western Bureau:

With a forecast growth of 3.3 per cent towards gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, chairman of the Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Edmund Bartlett is calling for governments to recognise the tourism industry's substantive value.

Addressing the 38th plenary session of the UNWTO Affiliate Members in Armenia, western Asia, last week, Bartlett said the time had come to recognise tourism's value to development and to take seriously the enormous worth of the industry in achieving the promised nirvana.

The UNWTO Affiliate Members chairman called for a more intense push to develop additional synergetic innovative programmes that will help to popularise the importance of tourism to development planning.

His call comes against the backdrop of the recently released World Travel and Tourism (WTTC), annual update, titled 'The Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism'.

"In 2015, travel and tourism, in total, contributed US$7.2 trillion to world GDP (9.8 per cent of the global GDP)," stated Bartlett, explaining that the sector supported 284 million jobs, or one in 11 jobs in the world.

Travel and tourism, he said, grew by 3.1 per cent in 2015. This marked the sixth consecutive year of positive growth for the sector. "The sector's contribution to GDP is forecast to grow by 3.3 per cent in 2016," he revealed.

In fact, all world subregions experienced growth in travel and tourism GDP, with the Caribbean reporting an increase of 5.1 per cent.

ECONOMIC COSTS OF TERRORISM

His presentation, which delved deeply into the impact of terrorism on the tourism sector, acknowledged the far-reaching impact these attacks have had on countries such as Turkey, France, Egypt, and Tunisia, which have experienced decline in visitor arrivals from 11 per cent to 20 per cent in the last year.

The economic costs of violence containment on the global economy increased, he said, at an estimated $13.7 trillion in 2012 and $14.3 trillion in 2014, or 13.4 per cent of the world GDP - according to the Global Peace Index Report 2015 (Institute for Economics and Peace).

"The WTTC reported that the global economic costs of terrorism reached $52.9 billion in 2014, the highest ever, up from $ 32.9 billion in 2013," stated Bartlett.

Bartlett is not disheartened, however, and, in referencing Harvard University professor, Joseph Nye, he said the truth was that "tourism can be seen as a type of 'soft power', which is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction".

The UNWTO Affiliate Members are based in more than 80 countries, comprising private and public-sector companies, destinations, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions or bodies whose activities are related to tourism.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com