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World tourism chiefs in Dubai as industry bucks economic trend

World tourism chiefs in Dubai as industry bucks economic trend


Paris: Global tourism leaders will meet in Dubai over the weekend to plot future strategy for an industry which, despite a slight downward revision of annual growth estimates, is easily bucking present economic trends.

1,000 delegates will gather for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) summit in Dubai, which is regarded as the ‘jewel’ of the United Arab Emirates -- a perfect symbol for the sector’s transformative powe

Focus of talks will be on ensuring adequate infrastructure for future growth and mitigating tourism’s environmental impact.

Corporates, tour operators, hotels, airlines, govt. officials to participate

Airlines, tour operators and hotel chains will be joined by around 40 government ministers as the WTTC -- which began as a select club in 1990 by the chiefs of Amex, Accor, British Airways and American Airlines -- comes truly of age.

WTTC projections show tourism will this year generate $8.4 trillion in revenue despite the revised growth projection of three percent compared to 3.9% in 2007.

That represents almost 10% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), providing employment for 238 million people worldwide.

And all this despite the global credit crunch, the spectre of recession in U.S, surging oil and food prices and worries over climate change, each of which have played their part in trimming initial growth projections of 4.6%.

“Over the next decade, we will see an explosion in activity throughout our sector," the president of this London-based organisation, Jean-Paul Baumgarten, told AFP. “It’s up to us to see this industry develop responsibly," he added.

Tourism expenditure to go up 4.4%

By 2018, the WTTC expects annual tourism expenditure to rise by an average of 4.4%. Another major issue up for discussion is the eternal question of how to develop national tourist infrastructures in line with demand, with Baumgarten speaking of “great concern" within his body at the “lack of planning (shown) by the majority of governments around the world."

Dubai, he said, offers an example to all, with the UAE government “turning a desert into a destination," he added. However, the WTTC’s growing strength -- it now numbers some 100 influential members -- means its lobbying power has risen considerably.

The turning-point in that process can be traced back to the September 11 attacks in 2001, said. “Governments the world over realised then the enormous impact tourism has on the economy and started listening to us," Baumgarten stated.

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