Terrorism, ISIS unlikely to impact global travel
Travel has become a part of life
Terrorism and disruptive groups like ISIS, which is seeking an Islamic state, are unlikely to impact on global travel which is seen rising from 1.1 billion people crossing borders last year to a forecasted1 8 billion in 2030, officials said here.
“Is this an unstable world? I don’t think so. It’s because travel is a human right, the right to relax, the right to do business, the right to enjoy. We will continue to travel because this is the antithesis of terrorism and the forces of darkness,” noted Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) speaking to reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of a UNWTO regional meeting at the Bandos Resort and Spa in the Maldives.
According to UNWTO figures, 300 million additional travellers will visit Asia in the years to 2030, rising from 260 million to 560 million. Globally 1.8 billion people will cross borders in 2030 from 1.1 billion in 2014. Dr. Rifai said the main source markets are also shifting to Asia from Europe and North America. While China was the biggest source market to the world last year with 125 million Chinese travelling out and spending US$150 billion in that year, there is increasing travel from countries like India, Brazil, Thailand and Malaysia.
Industry experts were mixed over Dr. Rifai’s comments that tourism will grow despite instability in the world. Hussain Lirar, Deputy Tourism Minister of the Maldives, said Maldives has had its share of political problems but that hasn’t had any major impact on tourism. “Tourism will grow despite all problems,” he said.
Hiran Cooray, Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Jetwing Leisure Group and former Chairman of PATA, speaking in a global context said he agreed with Dr. Rifai’s views. “People (often) have short memories (of any issue, any crisis) and within a month I’m sure visitors will go to Nepal which suffered a devastating earthquake recently. Travel is ingrained in society. It’s part of life, part of your daily routine. That will never change,” he said.
Another participant familiar with the crisis that Sri Lanka went through in 1983-2009 also agreed that travel has become part of life but believes that terrorism or political upheaval will have, at least, some impact. “Nobody wants to go to a place where there are life-threatening problems. My take is in case of a major crisis, they will go elsewhere,” he said, reflecting the situation that Sri Lanka faced during three decades of a civil conflict that ended in 2009.But the UNTWO chief argues that more instability in the world is because “we hear more, we are more informed. The world knows better and we care better for one another”.
He said travel has become a people’s movement and no longer is travel considered a luxury or secondary activity in ‘our’ life. “We divide work, leisure and sleep. Even our household budget is evenly divided to include education, food, shopping and travel,” he said.