Predicting the future of global travel and tourism


ABU DHABI – “The trends of the future will be demographic, economic, and ecological… Globalization is the most progressive, powerful force we’ve ever seen, but it needs to be managed,” said Professor Ian Goldin, Director, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, during his address to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit.

The ageing population, an increasingly connected society, and fluctuating economic conditions are just three of the major factors that will set future trends in the global travel and tourism industry, according to industry leaders who spoke on the first day of the. Other factors include the growth of the middle class with its increased disposable income, as well as the emergence of a new generation that prioritises travel and cares for its environment.

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“We live in new Renaissance, we live in a period of unparalleled opportunity, which has changed in different ways we can’t begin to imagine,” Professor Goldin said, speaking during the first session of the Summit entitled “The Global Context” at the two-day event held in Jumeirah by Etihad Towers.

The opening keynote address was made by David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council. “Travel is a way of life and even in the toughest times, it continues to be a priority for populations around the world. Travel and tourism drives economies and creates jobs; and even in challenging economic times, it still has the potential to grow, as consumer appetite for travel beyond national borders remains insatiable,” he said.

According to Dr. Stelter, Senior Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group GmbH. “There will be some ‘mega-trends.’ The travel and tourism mega-trends that will impact the industry are changing customer needs because of an ageing population; the shift to RDE; further globalization; and more convenience and time compression,” he said to a packed auditorium. There will be hurdles thrown up by mobility, infrastructure challenges, and energy scarcity; new technology and increased intermediation, he continued.

Addressing His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA), industry leaders, dignitaries, and delegates gathered at the summit, Jonathan Porritt, Director, Founder and Trustee, Forum for the Future, later asked: “Part of the leadership challenge is to be certain we have the answer to this question: how do we de-couple the benign impacts of what has become the world’s biggest industry, not to become the biggest destroyer of natural capital? How do we make sure we achieve this de-coupling affect?” The answers he proffered are efficiency, renewables, storage, and smart grids. “Eco-tourism does not equal sustainable tourism on a global basis,” he stated.

Sandy Douglas, Global Chief Customer Officer, the Coca-Cola Company, concluded the opening session with an insight into the changing consumer. The modern consumer makes their own decisions, is more connected than ever and also shapes their own relationship with global brands.