A more efficient way to travel, a destination’s long-term planning, and good crisis management are three factors that must be considered to enable the world’s business travel and events industry to grow further.
The first consideration is security and travel facilitation, opined Gloria Guevara, president & CEO World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) who spoke to TTGmice at IMEX Frankfurt.
She believes that if it wasn’t easy to travel to a specific destination, this would impact participation numbers at business events.
Guevara noted that in 2017 approximately four billion people had flown, according to IATA’s long-term passenger forecast. IATA predicts that over the next 20 years, passenger numbers could almost double, which means that by 2036 there could be some 7.8 billion people travelling by air.
“When you look at that growth, do you think we can grow with the existing infrastructure we have? I don’t think so,” said Guevara. “One of the things we are proposing is the use of technology – biometrics specifically – so travellers can have a better experience at the airports and ports, where they can travel faster and more efficiently.”
She strongly believes this initiative is significant as it will make the journey more seamless, and in turn the ease of travel would impact business travel positively.
Guevara also urged the need for a long-term plan for sustainable growth. WTTC is working towards this with local authorities, and on behalf of the private sector, to avoid overcrowding. This is in light of the number of international tourist arrivals forecasted to grow – according to UNWTO – from 1.2 billion to 1.8 billion by 2030.
Guevara elaborated: “Business events play a significant role here because they move thousands of people during an event. Hence, we have to make sure the destination has a long-term plan so that it can benefit from the opportunity (of the tourism influx), instead of being negatively impacted because of the volume.”
Lastly, the management of crises is another key factor, and the WTTC hopes to spend time with governments to prepare for possible disasters, as business events would be diverted should organisers or travellers not feel safe in a particular destination.
“When a destination manages a crisis well, it minimises the negative impact on business travel in a short time frame. For example, there was a situation in Las Vegas, but the local government engaged with the private sector and local community, and they were fully prepared to react to the uncertainty,” Guevara shared.
Currently, business travel is 22.5 per cent or a quarter of travel and tourism worldwide, where its contribution, both direct and indirect, is 10.4 per cent of the world’s GDP.