WTM 2011: Ministers call for coalition approach across departments


The social and economic benefits of tourism could be strengthened if governments collaborated more closely with each other and the private sector over visas, taxation, aviation agreements and marketing. This was the key message at the UNWTO and WTM Ministers’ Summit, where Reed Travel Exhibitions Director World Travel Market, Fiona Jeffery, pointed out that stronger relationships needed to be adopted across the entire value chain.  

The different approach from governments to visas and the distorting effect regulations have on the global flow of travellers was a recurring issue. It was felt widely that e-visas and air liberalisation are possible solutions. Marthinus van Shalkwyk, South African Minister of Tourism, said technology was available to share relevant information between authorities and David Scowsill, President and CEO WTTC, said that this was an area where the industry could lead the agenda.
Travel advisories and taxation were two other issues where tourism ministries could work in partnership with other departments. Peter Long, CE of TUI Travel, said next year’s introduction of the pan-European Emission Trading Scheme could make European travel uncompetitive and demanded “a level playing field” for taxes.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO, concluded by reminding delegates that the tourism industry was growing during the most severe economic crisis of a generation, and that the number of international tourists in 2012 would break through the 1bn barrier. “This growth so far this year is astonishing but if the industry could work more closely together even more benefits could emerge, and this will not require any additional investment.”

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