Three critical areas have been identified by travel industry chiefs for action in order to ensure the sector in Europe maintains its competitiveness.

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s first Europe leaders forum highlighted long term planning with communities at the centre, increasing resilience by preparing for crises and transitioning to a seamless traveller journey through the use of technology.

The WTTC’s areas of opportunity for Europe:

• Growth needs to be sustainable and planned for the long term involving communities to ensure it is inclusive and positively benefits the people of Europe.

• Crisis preparedness, where destinations and the private sector work together to learn from previous experience and ensure an integrated approach to dealing with crises such as extreme weather events, health pandemics and terrorism.

• Improve efficiency and travel security through the use of technologies such as biometrics, which put a seamless traveller journey at the centre and expand capacity to capitalise on growth opportunities.

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara told the meeting in Lisbon attended by 150 executives: “Travel and tourism accounts for 10.4% of the world’s GDP and one in ten jobs and has consistently outperformed the economy as a whole.

“Here in Europe, which attracts over half of global international arrivals, travel and tourism contributes 9.9% to GDP and in 2017 the sector grew more than twice as fast as the rest of the economy. Iata is forecasting an additional 1.5 billion passengers a year in Europe by 2036.

“The challenge for the future is to ensure that growth is maintained and is sustainable, providing benefits for local communities, be they in large cities or remote rural areas, and ensuring a great experience for the traveller.”

She added: “WTTC calls for action in these areas so that Europe maintains competitiveness and maximises future job creation through travel and tourism.

“Europe is a large and important tourism market but it is important that its leaders do not take this for granted.”

Destination stewardship, crisis preparedness and travel security will be explored in more depth during WTTC’s global summit in Seville on April 3-4, 2019.