The head of the UK-based World Tourism Forum Institute (WTFI), Bulutv Bagci has disclosed that after the 2001 terrorist attacks and SARS epidemic of 2003, tourism is bouncing back rapidly in the US and Asia.
According to him, “I’m completely positive the world will normalise after May 2021 – gradually the tourism sector will return to normal by 2024.”
Bagci believed that the measures imposed worldwide to stem the spread of the coronavirus had negative effects on people saying “I’m not waiting for similar lockdowns”.
He said tourism narrowed to 98 percent in 2020, many firms were affected and figures showing the sector’s position will be revealed in one or two months.
According to him, “since originating in China last December, the pandemic has infected millions and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives globally.
“Measures to stem the spread hit several sectors deeply, especially travel, aviation, tourism, and manufacturing.
Bagci said the sector cannot afford strong pandemic measures for another year, with several aviation firms on the verge of bankruptcy.
He maintained that vaccine will be approved in the coming months, saying people will therefore go safely on vacation.
Bagci said due to the virus, hygiene and food service rules were revised permanently at tourist facilities.
His words, “people now check to see if there’s a hospital nearby when they go on a vacation,”
“Turkey’s initiative to build city hospitals is very important for the country’s tourism sector.”
“Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s good management of public health during the pandemic gave people confidence.
He said tourism also went digitised during the pandemic because customers chose digital channels for shopping, including holiday packages.
According to him, the MICE sector (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) will also be revived in 2021.
“Digital events fall short for the MICE sector, online applications in this field aren’t permanent,” he said.
Hosting more leaders than others
The WTFI organises the World Tourism Forum to host leaders and key tourism players from different countries.
He added that there are many fairs and events but the forum boasts the motto: “We host more Leaders than Others.”
Bagci said the forum has hosted about one dozen country leaders, more than 20 former leaders, 60 tourism ministers, and hundreds of sector representatives – CEOs and managers.
This, according to him, is held in such hotspots as Istanbul, Antalya on the Turkish Riviera, Moscow, Ghana, and Angola, and is set to be held in Pakistan in 2021.
With specific recommendations and master plans, he said the institute helps countries attract more tourists and investments from foreign countries.
After the institute advised Ghana to ease visa conditions, its tourist numbers rose to 1.3 million annually, more than double its previous number, 600,000.
He said Angola also changed visa conditions to ease business travel to the country.
The forum is currently working with Pakistan to attract $10 billion in foreign investment.
He said, “We met with [Prime Minister] Imran Khan,” he said. “Pakistan has several types of products for foreign investors but there are no world-class reports showing the country’s potential”
He added that the institute, headquartered in the UK, is especially active in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Bagci said the WTFI signed a new memorandum of understanding (Mou) with D8 (developing) bloc countries to enhance tourism capacity and boost tourism investments.
“The D8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and World Tourism Forum Institute are joining forces to reshape economies by supporting the tourism sector across the D8 member states,” according to the agreement.
“We aim at promoting tourism, cultural and social activities as well as boosting people-to-people, business-to-business contacts and integrate the state and private institutions of the Member States.”
Already, the forum is to focus on the tourism sector of members in Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Iran