The 8th edition of the Global Travel and Tourism Summit drew to a successful close today at the Madinat Jumeirah, capping two-days of deliberations with a unanimous call for reducing the industry’s carbon footprint by 80 per cent by 2025.
Experts also emphasised the need for a more conscious and strategic commitment to identifying innovative ways for tackling the complex challenges confronting the travel and tourism sector.
The second day’s sessions on “The Industry Is Smart – And It’s Getting Smarter” and “We’ve Always Looked Ahead – Now We’re Looking Further” were moderated by Philip Wolf, CEO, PhoCusWright Inc, and Nik Gowing, Chief Presenter, BBC World, respectively.
The discussions drew industry perspectives from travel and tourism giants such as Philippe Bourguignon, Vice Chairman, Revolution Places LLC, CEO, Revolution Places Development; Dr Alex Christou, Managing Partner, Accenture; Ed Gilligan, Vice Chairman, American Express Company; Stevan D Porter, President, The Americas, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); Eric C Anderson, President and CEO, Space Adventures, Ltd; Gerald Lawless, Executive Chairman, Jumeirah Group; Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Chairman, Silversea Cruises; and, Sonu Shivdasani, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Six Senses Resorts & Spas.
Sustainability remained a core theme on the concluding day of the summit, with experts and industry leaders suggesting the current travel and tourism business model cannot be sustained unless new perspectives and innovative approaches are immediately adopted.
Sonu Shivdasani said: “Our industry is making considerable investments to drive sustainability, but there is more than we can do to lead by example. We need to set ambitious targets for effectively mitigating the negative impact of our emissions. Unless we aim big, we have no chance of hitting our targets.”
Gerald Lawless underlined human resources as a critical issue. He said: “Tourism has always been a labour intensive industry, accounting for 10 per cent of the world’s employment. It is important, therefore, that the industry’s expansion remains attractive to new human capital. We can increase the quality and calibre of the labour force only through providing concerted education and industry specific training.”
In the concluding segment of the Global Travel and Tourism Summit, a panel of moderators and speakers were brought together to collate the outcomes of the various deliberations for drawing up a decisive industry forecast. A maximal agreement on the priority areas for responsible Travel and Tourism were formulated by Christopher Rodrigues CBE, Chairman, VisitBritain; Stevan Porter, President, The Americas InterContinental Hotels Group PLC.; Philippe Bourguignon, Vice Chairman, Revolution Places LLC; and, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Jean-Claude Baumgarten highlighted the industry’s obligations, given its status as a top employment provider.
He said: “We need to explain the sector’s position to the world as a major employment generating component of the economy. There are obligations beyond economic impacts – such as environmental – that are nevertheless related to it. Human resources need to be developed as well. In doing so, we need to adapt our message to integrate an emotional appeal. We have to lead by example and demonstrate our role and commitment to the world.”
Organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the two-day summit was facilitated by a unique public and private sector partnership comprising DTCM, Emirates Group, Jumeirah Group and Nakheel.