For delegates attending the Invest, Finance and Restart Summit — held by the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC) at WTM London – the message was pretty clear.
And it focused on the fact that investments in training people will be key to the recovery of travel and tourism around the world.
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett was quick to point out that many skilled workers in tourism have moved to other sectors because of the devastating impact of the pandemic.
As an example of this trend, Minister Bartlett noted that airlines are finding it hard to ramp up capacity to cope with the demand because many pilots, cabin crew and ground-handlers have left travel.
Said Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism: “Skills have gone elsewhere; specialized skills will take a long time to build up again.”
And Minister Bartlett added: “There will be a slower recovery because of the human factor.”
Dr Taleb Rifai, ITIC Chairman ITIC and former Secretary General at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), said destinations had learned valuable lessons during the pandemic about the value of international and domestic tourism to their economies.
He pointed to Jamaica, Jordan and Egypt as good examples of destinations that were investing in tourism to take advantage of opportunities after the COVID-19 crisis.
Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Kenya, said tourism accounted for 9% of the Kenyan GDP.
Balala said that tourism had been the second most important sector in the country before Covid struck, after agriculture, but was now the fourth, as manufacturing and construction had overtaken it.
However, he said there will be growth in 2022 and it will recover fully by 2023-24.
He agreed that investment in people and education was as important as investing in infrastructure and hotels.
But, he added: “Human resources are key.”
The CEO of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, Amr El-Kady said that his country had continued to invest in tourism during the pandemic.
In fact, it has launched a new air service between Luxor and the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh to enable tourists to have two-centre holidays combining beach breaks with trips to the ancient sites of Egypt.
As for Jordan, Nayef Hmeidi Al-Fayez, the country’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, pointed out that his country continued to invest in tourism products and attractions during the pandemic.
And there is a new focus on outdoor and nature offerings to cater for post-pandemic trends among travellers, he added.
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett and the chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch take time to pose for a photo at Jamaica’s booth at WTM London 2021.