ITB: ‘Tourism should be part of G20 stimulus plan’

Travel industry leaders should target the G20 heads of government meeting in London on April 2 to demand tourism be put at the heart of economic stimulus efforts.

United Nations World Tourism Organisation assistant secretary-general Geoffrey Lipman said: “Tourism has always been a passive sector. We need to talk to the decision makers.

“We should send a strong message to the G20, saying ‘Put tourism in your stimulus packages’.”

Lipman 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. I will be happy if tourism falls no more than 5%.”

Industry analyst Auliana Poon, managing director of German-based Tourism Intelligence International, ruled out a quick fix, suggesting: “It will be two to five years before there is a recovery for the tourism industry.”

Economist Max Otte – author of a bestselling German book, The Crash Will Come – told ITB delegates the best scenario was “a very deep recession”.

However, he suggested the most likely prospect was a “Japanese scenario”, which he described as a “zombie world economy”.

“Long stagnation, perhaps for 10 years, is most likely,” he said. He did not rule out a global depression.

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

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