The cruise industry needs to play its part in fighting visa bureaucracy and deterring more taxation, David Scowsill, CEO and President of the World Travel & Tourism Council said.
Speaking at ‘Cruise Shipping Miami’ Conference (12th March 2013), Scowsill complimented the cruise sector for making a vital and rapidly growing contribution to the global Travel & Tourism industry but called on it to come together with other sectors of the Industry to speak with “One Voice” and ensure visa processing and taxes, which support growth, remain high on governments’ agendas.
Scowsill explains: “Visa processes are needed which are transparent, cost effective and streamlined to enable travellers to move around the world quickly, efficiently and with minimum ‘hassle’. The cruise sector is looking to open up new markets including China, where a growing middle class is expressing a desire to cruise and see the world. Lengthy and complicated visa processes for potential Chinese, Russian and Indian passengers will hamper that growth”.
WTTC undertook a joint study with UNWTO to determine the economic value and job creation potential of improvements in visa procedures and policies. The research showed that improvements within G20 countries could generate up to 112 million additional tourists, increase tourism receipts by up to US$ 206 billion and add 5 million jobs over three years. The findings were tabled at the meeting of the G20 Ministers of Tourism at the WTTC meeting in Mexico last May and the declaration from that meeting was submitted to the G20 Leaders. It was the first time that Travel & Tourism had been included in the G20 World Leaders’ Declaration. Scowsill says: “Leaders are beginning to get the message but Governments need to understand how much revenue they are missing out on by not having progressive visa policies”.
Scowsill also says: “Rampant taxation in the aviation sector in most parts of the world demonstrates that governments view passengers as a revenue source rather than a revenue generator; I’m asking the cruise sector to play their part in ensuring that taxes stimulate growth, rather than thwart it”.
He congratulated the industry on being the fastest-growing sector of travel & tourism. CLIA’s industry outlook forecasts that 20.9 million passengers will take a cruise in 2013 –an increase of 3.3% on passenger numbers in 2012. The worldwide cruise market for 2013 is estimated to be worth US$ 36 billion – up 4.8% on last year. Total worldwide cruise capacity in 2013 will be around 439,000 passengers – an increase of 3% on 2012. But Scowsill says connectivity with other sectors is vital.
Finally, Scowsill is calling on the cruise industry to play its part in sustainable growth which ensures benefits for consumers, businesses, local people and the environment. Over the next ten years, with a significant shift in terms of Travel & Tourism GDP from the mature to the newly emerged and emerging markets, WTTC forecasts that China will overtake the US by 2023 as the world’s largest Travel & Tourism economy. He says “I know that the cruise industry is inextricably linked to the environment and you are dedicated to preserving the marine life and oceans upon which your ships sail. CLIA members have adopted aggressive programmes of waste minimisation, waste reuse and waste stream management. I ask you to continue with valuable policies such as these and play your part in finding the right balance between people, planet and profits”.
In conclusion, David Scowsill says “Engaging with policy-makers from governments and international organisations is central to WTTC’s mission. Getting our message across is vital. But we cannot do this alone. It does not matter who leads and who follows, but it is vital that private and public sector come together to speak and that all sectors of our industry unite, so that our messages coalesce and we state our case in terms which make governments and world leaders sit up and listen. We call on the cruise industry to play a part in doing this with “One Voice”.”