CHICAGO—The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and JLL released a new report that addresses what makes a city ready for travel and tourism growth. The report, “Destination 2030: Global cities’ readiness for sustainable tourism growth,” was released during WTTC’s 21st Global Summit in Manila, Philippines.
Prior to the pandemic, the travel and tourism sector had been outpacing the global economy for almost a decade, with an annual average growth of 4.3 percent compared to 2.9 percent through 2019, and a contribution of nearly $9.2 trillion to the global economy in the same year.
After the disruption caused by the pandemic, the global travel and tourism sector is finally seeing signs of recovery. As the sector continues to evolve, the halt to international travel not only provided new challenges but also the opportunity for policymakers, destination leaders, and stakeholders to enhance the sector’s readiness. The report addresses what makes a city ready for sustainable travel and tourism. Sixty-three global cities were measured and categorized into one of five levels of readiness while providing attainable solutions to promote sustainable growth in tourism activity in each destination.
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said, “Travel and tourism plays an incredibly important role in a city’s economy, not only boosting GDP but also creating jobs and improving the livelihoods of those who rely on our sector,” Simpson said. “For a city to truly thrive and for travel and tourism to develop in a sustainable manner, stakeholders need to understand how ready the city is for the expected growth in tourism and the resulting challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.”
“The notion of ‘readiness’ has a ripple effect throughout the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Gilda Perez-Alvarado, global CEO, JLL Hotels & Hospitality. “The progression and planning that a country, region, or destination achieves will impact the financial health of the industries that make up the tourism industry. This includes property values, tax generation, and workforce development.”
“The collective research that has produced the readiness index underscores the importance and breadth of engagement that is needed from the tourism industry,” added Dan Fenton, director of global tourism and destination development services, JLL Hotels & Hospitality. “Our industry must take a leadership role in virtually all indicators that make up the index.”
According to the report, the readiness levels range on a scale from emerging to established-market tourism hubs with varying levels of infrastructure. It goes on to explain the current opportunities and challenges faced by cities and offers recommendations for building and maintaining tourism activity.
Although the five typologies will require different approaches to development, no one typology is better than another, and all will demand proactiveness in strategic planning and implementation at the destination level:
- Dawning Developers, such as New Delhi and Riyadh, are cities with emerging tourism infrastructure, slower tourism growth, and lower visitor concentration. Such destinations often have a clean slate in planning long-term tourism development with many opportunities ahead.
- Emerging Performers, such as Dubrovnik and Buenos Aires, are cities that are experiencing growing tourism momentum, enabled by emerging tourism infrastructure, and providing tremendous opportunities for strategic development. However, destinations in this category may experience pressures and challenges such as overcrowding.
- Balanced Dynamics, such as Auckland and Vancouver, are cities that have established tourism infrastructure and potential for further travel and tourism growth, across both leisure and business segments, whilst balancing scale and concentration.
- Mature Performers, such as Miami, Berlin, and Hong Kong, are cities with strong leisure and/or business travel dynamics and established tourism infrastructure. As these destinations look to further drive travel and tourism growth, they will need to consider potential pressures as well as opportunities for diversification to avoid strains linked to visitor volumes.
- Managing Momentum, such as Amsterdam, London, and Las Vegas, are cities with historically high growth momentum, supported by an established tourism infrastructure. Destinations within this typology are more likely than ‘Mature Performers’ to have already reached the stage of feeling the pressures of balancing scale and concentration as they continue to benefit from travel and tourism.
The readiness categories were determined by analyzing data on 79 indicators within eight pillars. In addition to the six pillars included in the previous report—scale, concentration, leisure, business, urban readiness, and policy prioritization—two new pillars were added: environmental readiness and safety and security.
These additions allowed for an improved focus on sustainability, social impact, and safety and security in conjunction with the more conventional indicators that continue to drive the sector.
The pandemic has shown the pressing need for a holistic view when addressing destination planning and management. The importance of cities as drivers of success cannot be undervalued, making it a priority to recommit to the future of destinations.