Governments need policies that support aviation's contribution to tourism, says IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac

Indications are that this summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere could see a record number of travelers.

Anyone who has flown in recent weeks will have seen airports that are more crowded than usual. And empty seats in aircraft are rarer than usual. 

Travel is always met with high anticipation. And that is particularly true for leisure travelers.

Aviation is the business of freedom. And you feel that most at this time of the year

Families are making their way to see relatives or enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Excited 20-somethings have their backpacks ready for their first exotic trips. Tour groups are kitted-out for ambitious five-countries-in-seven-days itineraries. And school children on class trips prepare for brand new world experiences.

Aviation is the business of freedom. And you feel that most at this time of the year.

The economic contribution of aviation is also at its most visible. The travel and tourism industry impacts about 10% of global output, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Full planes also mean full hotels, bustling shopping areas, busy attractions and heavily booked restaurants. It’s no wonder that cities and countries compete vigorously to attract this economically stimulating tourist spend.

Short-sighted tourism taxes imposed by many governments make travel more costly for the very visitors that they seek to attract

So it is mystery why governments put so many blockers in the way of the industry. Over half the number of tourists arrive by air. Yet we face an infrastructure crisis: lack of capacity and high costs for airports and air navigation services threaten to choke growth.

The Henley and Partners 2017 Visa Restrictions Index notes it has become more difficult for travelers of 48 nations to visit other countries. 

Short-sighted tourism taxes imposed by many governments make travel more costly for the very visitors that they seek to attract. And little, if any, of what is collected is actually allocated to enhancing the tourism proposition.

Take a step back and the irony is becomes clear. Governments crave the jobs and economic growth that tourism brings. But very few have implemented a coordinated policy framework to maximize the opportunities of travel and tourism’s potent economic stimulus.

The summer travel rush is a good opportunity to remind governments that the economic impact of tourism is $7.6 trillion

A successful trip needs a delicate coincidence of many factors—infrastructure capacity, airline seat availability, hotel accommodation; and restaurants, attractions and other services that meet the traveler’s needs.

And all must be within a price range that fits differing budgets. All of these need to come together to make a destination successful.

That does not come without effort. But not many governments do the math on what one less day spent in a city or one less trip taken means to the local employers and jobs that depend on tourists. 

With that in mind, the summer travel rush is a good opportunity to remind governments that the economic impact of tourism is $7.6 trillion.

And if they want to get their slice of the growth that will come as the number of air passengers grows from four billion this year to 7.2 billion 2035, governments must work in partnership with the industry—building policies to support success and jobs.

There is a lot at stake. So we shouldn’t be shy in explaining our needs!

Happy travels to all. 

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