World Tourism President Urges Leaders to Keep Borders Open

The President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Mr David Scowsill, has urged world leaders not to close borders in response to the growing threat of terrorism.

Scowsill made this pledge while speaking at the beginning of a two-day meeting of the organisation’s annual Global Summit in Dallas, on Thursday.

"Don’t close borders in response to terrorism, because closing borders and jeopardising the freedom to travel is not the answer to the current security concerns."

A transcript of the WTTC president's quoted him as saying that world leaders need to stand together and act now, with the support of the travel and tourism sector in the fight against terrorism and threat to global security.

He said that the combination of global terrorism and an international refugee crisis is creating an unprecedented threat.

``Closing our borders and jeopardising our freedom to travel is not the solution.

"We have to prevent an overreaction from governments. We live in an ever connected world, brought closer by technology, multi-platform media, binding trade agreements and the sheer speed of travel.

"That same connectivity sees us witnessing the migration of peoples, on a scale not seen for decades.

``Navigating our way through and beyond the complexities of mass migration, embracing the possibilities while acknowledging the concerns, will be the urgent task of our global leaders now and in the future," he Scowsill.

``To prevent an overreaction from governments; the critical question is to understand how to keep the borders safe, while keeping those same borders open to business travellers and tourists."

Scowsill reminded the delegates of the impact of the US border tightening after the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, which led to a lost decade of tourism income that cost the US some 600 billion dollar in losses.

He said that the WTTC advocates improving international intelligence and security agency cooperation, better use of technology, and better communication as ways of combating the terrorism problem.

"Such action will take global agreements and a commitment to sharing data something which can only happen with concerted international effort.

"World leaders also need to stand up together and to act now, and it is our role as travel and tourism leaders to make that happen, and the economic contribution of travel and tourism is clear.

"Globally, the travel and tourism sector contributes 7.2 trillion dollars annually, almost 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, and supports one in eleven of all jobs on the planet, which is an exceptionally resilient performance despite many challenges," Scowsill said.

He also highlighted how the sector is force for good in the world, noting that, travel and tourism brings people together.

It puts a smile on people’s faces. It alleviates poverty. It provides employment across all levels of society, and in some of the most remote places on earth. It broadens horizons and breaks boundaries."

The WTTC is the global forum for business leaders in the travel and tourism industry, with chief executives of hundreds of the world's leading travel and tourism companies as its members.

It also advocates partnership between the public and private sectors, and delivering results that match the needs of economies, local and regional authorities and local communities.