The global travel industry can no longer be dismissed as fragmented, the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) claimed yesterday.

WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill told the council’s summit in Abu Dhabi: “We are forcing governments to appreciate the collective impact of the industry by speaking with one voice.”

Scowsill added: “We formed a Global Travel Association Coalition last year, made up of leading organisations, to speak in unison on the central issues affecting our industry.

“At a global level, we can no longer be labelled fragmented.”

He argued: “We made significant progress lobbying heads of state on freedom to travel, to persuade governments to adopt smarter visa and border security policies.

“For the first time our industry was discussed at a G20 meeting. More than 40 presidents and heads of state have declared their support for the sector.”

Scowsill insisted: “World leaders are at last beginning to get the message.”

However, he said: “Taxation on travel and tourism is rampant. Aviation taxes and airport taxes are onerous. Hotel sales taxes, food and beverage taxes and culture taxes are rife and increasing.

“Air Passenger Duty in the UK is having a demonstrable dampening effect on the market. Governments must stop taxing the tourist to boost treasury coffers.”

The Summit then heard Boston Consulting Group managing director Daniel Stelter warn: “It is too early to say the [financial] crisis is over.

“What we saw in Cyprus is just the beginning. We’ll see more debt restructuring or debt inflated away.

“There are two possibilities: a eurozone break up or a Japan scenario – meaning two decades of low growth.” He asked: “Are you prepared for these scenarios?”

Stelter argued: “We will somehow fix our finances, but it will take more time. There will be growth, but it will be less than before. Your industry might benefit, but you may fail.”