Bali is the perfect setting to discuss how tourism can be a pioneer in our interdependent, interconnected world, demonstrating how countries can – and must – act together to build resilience in the face of global crises
“If only one person were perfectly informed”, wrote historian Robert Skidelsky, “there could never be a general crisis.” Yet on the brink of emergency, even the most agile governments must work with imperfect, fragmented information. New diseases, economic disasters and environmental collapse all demand rapid cooperation to find the best response. And it takes all of us – governments, international bodies and the private sector – to help make our systems more resilient to future shocks.
This is particularly true in global travel and tourism. Working across borders, our sector is uniquely vulnerable to international crises, and is disproportionately affected when global coordination fails. In 2020, the pandemic brought us to an almost complete standstill, causing a massive 50.4% drop in economic activity, and a loss of almost $4.9 trillion. This huge social and economic disruption cost millions of jobs and livelihoods; its echo reverberated around the world.
In these moments of chaos, the voice of industry is vital. The World Travel and Tourism Council is the international advocate for our sector, proudly representing more than 200 global businesses. Together, we create over 10% of the world’s gross domestic product and more than 333 million jobs. And as we reflect on the crises we have suffered in recent years, our message to the G20 is simple: the age of isolation is over. Our modern world is too interdependent – too interconnected – for countries to act alone in moments of global crisis. We call on the G20 governments not to look inward, but to respond as global leaders and coordinate global solutions.
Green shoots of recovery
The first priority is to rebuild from the pandemic. Last year, we began to see the green shoots of recovery, particularly in Europe. But we need much stronger collaboration if we are to see the same progress globally. The WTTC has worked hard to ensure that people can travel safely, advocating policies that align the private sector behind common standards. We created the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp – an accreditation that recognises destinations and businesses around the world that have adopted stringent health and hygiene protocols, against a set of standardised criteria. These common rules are critical; they give travellers peace of mind. Today, G20 governments have a golden opportunity to advocate these solutions on the world stage, backing an industry-led initiative that has been proven in dozens of countries.
Alongside the health of our people, we must also secure the health of our planet. Our sector is intrinsically linked to biodiversity and nature. More than half of global travel and tourism is driven by the desire to explore our natural world: its vast deserts, sweltering rainforests and rich diversity of wildlife. Last year, the WTTC produced the first ever sector-wide net zero roadmap for travel and tourism. In April 2022, we launched our ‘Hotel Sustainability Basics’ – a globally coordinated set of actions that hotels can take at the start of their sustainability journey. And now, as we approach the United Nations’ next biodiversity conference, the WTTC is launching a new report: Nature Positive Travel and Tourism. This landmark agenda is the first of its kind in the sector, bringing together businesses, policymakers, climate scientists and biodiversity experts.
Looking ahead, we want to see coordinated action from global leaders, including the G20. Our sector cannot halt the climate crisis alone. All of us are critical. And Bali is the perfect setting for this discussion: its coastlines are famous the world over as a global tourism destination; yet they are uniquely exposed to the effects of rising global temperatures.
At times, the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis can feel like two separate, even conflicting challenges. Yet look a little closer, and they reveal a lot about the nature of modern crises. Both are global in scale. Both disproportionately affect the poorest in our society. And both demand urgent, coordinated action to protect our health and prosperity – locally, nationally and internationally. In the modern era, the challenges we face are no longer confined to a single country. They stretch across borders. The war in Ukraine is already exposing weaknesses in our energy and financial systems. And as we look to the future, we must be more resilient. Alone, none of us can be perfectly informed. It is only through collaboration – true partnership – that we will thrive.