Actively shaping change in tourism
Industry representatives discuss the latest challenges
March 08, 2023
The tourism industry is back and on course worldwide to reach pre-pandemic levels. On Tuesday at the ITB Berlin Convention, Harald Pechlaner, university professor of Tourism from Eichstätt, discussed the challenges currently facing the industry and how to deal with digitalisation, the skills shortage and a much talked-about trend, sustainability. Taking part in the event were Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Alessandra Priante, regional director, Europe, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Sören Hartmann, president of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) and Dr. Eduardo Santander, executive director and CEO of the European Travel Commission (ETC).
Sören Hartmann (BTW) was of the opinion that the industry’s recovery could not signify business as before. In future, the focus would be on creating values for destinations and travellers alike. It meant travellers would have to get used to paying more for their holidays, while benefiting from more interesting and insightful experiences at their destination. “We need to transform our thinking and sell our products above value, not above price", Hartmann said.
“This is not about returning to the past but about now and the future“, said Dr. Eduardo Santander of the ETC. He stressed that it was not about predicting but instead shaping the future. Europe had an important role to play as a coordinator, Santander said. The introduction of the Europe-wide COVID vaccine pass had shown that. It was necessary now to create a platform for more eco-friendlier action – with eco-friendlier aviation fuels, better waste management and a combined energy mix.
According to Alessandra Priante of the UNWTO, one of the most important challenges now was to strengthen the basic workforce in tourism. “If we lose people we lose the heart and soul of our business“, Priante warned. That was why it was important to build trust among young people, to offer them training and to promote tourism as an industry with good career prospects.
According to Julia Simpson of the WTTC, another key to making the industry more attractive was presenting tourism’s carbon footprint in rational rather than emotive terms. “Greenhouse gas emissions from using smartphones were the same as air travel worldwide", Simpson said, adding that the tourism industry’s carbon emissions were at 8.1 per cent. She emphasised that the tourism industry had now succeeded in reducing its carbon footprint and decoupling growth from CO2 emissions. “In many places tourism is a kind of guardian of nature”, Simpson said.