Average disaster recovery times are decreasing except for crises associated with manmade political instability, according to World Travel and Tourism Council research.

Gloria Guevara (pictured), WTTC chief executive, told the fourth annual Global Resilience Summit in London last week that crises are “more frequent but less disruptive”.

She said it used to be that it took on average 26 months for countries to recover, now it is taking on average just 10 months. “Why is that? It’s because you [destinations and governments] are planning,” she said.


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However, the data for political crises shows that is it still taking 22.2 months on average to recover.  This compares unfavourably to natural disasters (16.2 months), disease outbreaks (19.4 months) and tourism and security related attacks (11.5 months).

The WTTC research found that 36% of disasters between 2001 and 2018 were natural disasters, 32% were related to terrorism or security, 19% political instability and 13% disease outbreaks.

“When we work together timeframes of recovery are reduced,” Guevara said. “When governments work in isolation, that’s when we see worse outcomes.

“A terrorism attack has less impact than political instability. We have seen some cases where after terrorism attacks, because they were managed very well and governments were very prepared, countries have taken eight weeks to recover.”

Guevara used the example of Mexico as a country that learned the lessons from the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake when 5,000 people died so that when it experienced another one came in September 2017 it had mandatory drills in place and was ready.

“The difference was people were prepared and the impact was less than it was first time,” said Guevara.

She added: “It’s crucial to prepare, assess the readiness of emergency action plans and educate to reduce fear. We make the mistake of not communicating properly, we make the mistake of blaming someone else, we make the mistake of not communicating with the private sector.”

Destinations should respond by “inviting people back when they are ready” and “rebuild stronger and better”, said Guevara.

The WTTC has been producing research on the travel and tourism sector for three decades and it predicts that the industry will become increasing important to the world economy in coming years.

Now accountable for one in five of all new jobs created that is predicted to rise to one in four in the next decade and the sector will grow from representing 10.4% of global GDP to 11.5%.

Overall the sector accounts for one in ten of all jobs in the world and that will increase to one in nine while there are expected to be 8.2 billion air passengers globally.

“The sector is going to continue to grow. The question is where are these 421 million new jobs going to be created,” said Guevara. “Who is going to benefit from the growth in travel and tourism even more?”

The WTTC has set out three core strategic priorities: firstly to make sure that travel can grow securely, secondly that there are disaster preparedness management and recovery plans in place and thirdly that growth is sustainable and “good for everyone”.