Travel and tourism growth figures are poised to stall as a result of declining global productivity according to US economic and social theorist and advisor to governments Jeremy Rifkin.
But Rifkin suggested this period of stagnation in what he called “the old economy” could herald a “third industrial revolution” which would transform the world economy and travel sector.
Rifkin told the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne: “GPD is slowing all over the world. Productivity is waning all over the world.
“Unemployment is stubbornly high in every country and no industry is more affected than travel and tourism.”
He warned: “Your growth figures will slow over the next 20 years. You rely on the health of every other industry.”
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecast will travel grow over the same period from just over one billion global trips in 2013 to 1.8 billion a year by 2030.
Yet Rifkin insisted: “We’re at the beginning of a very long sunset, [although] we can glimpse the sun rise.”
The peak in oil prices in 2008 had marked the end of an era, he said, arguing: “Your industry started to shut down in the summer of 2008. We’re seeing the death of the second industrial revolution [based on oil and car use and telecommunications].”
Rifkin argued: “You can have all the innovations of Silicon Valley, but if they are plugged into the old economy, it is not going to increase productivity.”
However, he suggested we are in the throes of a transformation or “third industrial revolution”.
This would develop from the convergence of new communications technology (the internet), new sources of power and new forms of transport (driverless cars and trains).
Rifkin said: “Within 25 years much of the human race will be harvesting their own energy and creating energy co-ops.
“Millions of people are going to produce their own energy in the next 25 years and share it over the grid. The energy companies will manage the grid.”
He argued: “Certain industries have ruptured already – music, TV, newspapers have gone of out business, book publishing is dying.”
Rifkin added: “The sharing economy is going to eliminate a good deal of goods and services from the capitalist economy.”
But he said his vision of the economy could “dramatically increase productivity and reduce costs”.
He told the forum: “You need to create a roadmap for travel and tourism.”
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