Global tourism predicted to slow after best year ever

The World Travel and Tourism Council says it has seen a recovery in markets such as Africa. Above, a man walks on the land at Ha Mampho village, Lesotho. (AP)
Updated 22 March 2018
0

Global tourism predicted to slow after best year ever

LONDON: The travel and tourism sector is set for a modest slowdown in 2018 as a result of higher oil prices and airfares, a year after it experienced its best year on record, according to a leading global industry body.
In its annual Economic Impact Report, the World Travel and Tourism Council said Thursday that the sector was responsible for the creation of 7 million new jobs worldwide in 2017, or one in five new jobs.
That was due largely to the fact that the sector outperformed the global economy for the seventh year running, growing by 4.6 percent against 3 percent. The sector, according to the organization, outperformed all others.
“2017 was the best year on record for the travel & tourism sector,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC. “We have seen increased spending as a result of growing consumer confidence, both domestically and internationally, recovery in markets in North Africa and Europe previously impacted by terrorism and continued outbound growth from China and India.”
Though the WTTC forecasts 2018 growth of 4 percent as a result of higher oil prices and airfares as well as expectations of rising interest rates in countries such as the US and the UK, it kept its long-term forecasts unchanged, with average annual growth of 3.8 percent over the next decade. By then, it expects the sector to support more than 400 million jobs globally, or one in nine of all jobs.
“As our sector continues to become more important both as a generator of GDP and jobs, our key challenge will be ensuring this growth is sustainable and inclusive,” Guevara said. “Already in 2017, we have begun to see a backlash against tourism in some key destinations.”
So-called overtourism is imperiling cherished buildings, straining infrastructure and harming the experience of travelers and local residents alike. Tourism-phobia has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in European destinations such as Barcelona and Venice, where visitors crowd the same places at the same time. The WTTC is involved in efforts to spread tourists around destinations and smooth out demand over time.
Oxford Economics helped in the compilation of the report, which covers 185 countries.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 16 January 2019
0

Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants at particular risk, says expert
  • Report finds that unemployment is a major concern in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.