The travel industry should embrace disruption as "our sector thrives on it", the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council told industry leaders yesterday.
WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill told the Council's Global Summit in Madrid: "We expect disruption and have learned to live with it."
Scowsill outlined the summit theme of 'disruption and reinvention', saying: "Despite the upheavals in the global economy, our sector remains vibrant."
He said: "2014 was another good year for travel and tourism. The industry generated nearly 10% of global GDP and nearly 6% of the world’s export dollars."
Scowsill reported the industry grew faster than the automotive, public services, retail, financial services, aerospace or mining sectors.
However, Scowsill said: "We face challenges. Worldwide disruption continues to impact on us where we least expect it, when we least expect it.
"We are still recovering from the chaotic years of banking crisis and the financial meltdown.
"The price of oil – so crucial to the viability of our industry – has seen extraordinary falls, benefiting consumers but bringing instability to companies and oil-producing nations.
"But for every troubling effect of disruption, we can find a positive change or reinvention.
"This industry thrives on disruption. The dismantling of existing business models, fueled by today‘s digital technologies, is cutting a disruptive swathe through our industry.
"The fast growth of mobile applications is rapidly changing consumer habits.
"Everywhere we look, the traditional is being contested and disrupted ."
But Scowsill said: "Established industry players continue to reinvent the way they do business."
He added: "Many outside travel and tourism fail to see us as a connected and united industry – preferring to see us in individual silos of lodging, aviation, cruise, car rental.
"This is particularly true with governments, who for the most part cannot see the total impact of the industry on jobs and GDP."
"We have to recognise that none of us can work in isolation or in a vacuum. We are more powerful with one voice.
"By embracing disruption and focusing on the benefits of reinvention we can find a shared sense of purpose and unity."
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