There is a serious shortage of the right people, in the right place, with the right skills to meet the growth of Travel & Tourism over the next ten years. This human capital crisis needs immediate action. That is the “urgent” message from David Scowsill, the President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global private sector body for Travel & Tourism. Mr Scowsill is calling on the public and private sectors to collaborate together “to solve this very concerning issue and to prevent the economic contribution of the industry from being severely constrained”.

Speaking in Singapore, Mr Scowsill says the talent crisis has been brought about due to countries not taking investment in human capital in the sector seriously enough; “Travel & Tourism’s contribution to Asia’s economy will grow 5.3% every year over the next decade, fuel by the growth in the middle classes. There is great opportunity for countries in the region to benefit from the social and economic benefits of Travel & Tourism. Governments in Asia have been investing time and money in tourism infrastructure – airports, ports, hotels and ground infrastructure - but many have failed to invest in the skills required to fill the jobs to meet the subsequent growth in demand. We are a people industry; we depend on quality people to deliver a quality product. If the situation is not addressed immediately, it could have serious consequences on the forecast social and economic growth in many countries across Asia in the next decade”.

WTTC’s economic data shows the importance of Travel & Tourism to Asia’s economy. The sector generated $US 2 trillion last year – an 8.7% share of Asia’s economy - and directly employs 65 million people across the region. Travel & Tourism direct employment globally is forecast to increase by more than 25 million jobs in the next ten years, with 16 million additional jobs in Asia. ’However, Mr Scowsill warns that many of these jobs will not materialise unless action is taken now; “The sector’s growth potential is higher than Asia’s total economy overall, so WTTC believes that Travel & Tourism’s human capital challenges are significantly higher than most other sector’s. This industry has the ability to create jobs across the economy at many different skills levels, and it is vital that these opportunities are not missed”.

WTTC is conducting research which will quantify the effect that the talent shortage could have on GDP and job creation in key Travel & Tourism economies. Mr Scowsill says WTTC is urging the public and private sectors to take steps to address the anticipated talent shortage; “Government ministries and the private sector need to work with educational institutions to put the right policies, programs and partnerships in place, to ensure that the workforce of the future knows about the career opportunities in the sector. They need to ensure that people are provided with the training and skills to excel in their jobs. This will ensure that we deliver the exciting growth forecasts for the sector”.

In Singapore for the Asia Travel Leaders’ Summit and ITB Asia, Mr Scowsill singled out the country as a leader in human capital best practice; “Countries can learn much from the way that Singapore is tackling its talent shortfall. It has a tight labor market with the economy close to full employment. The Government has a concerted action plan to prevent the loss of jobs from the Travel & Tourism sector. More countries could follow their example”.

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