Cameron urges world leaders to give travel & tourism stature

It is “wrong” that travel & tourism hasn’t always been given the standing and stature it deserves, despite generating 10 per cent of the world’s GDP and clear evidence it can be transformational for a country, says David Cameron, former UK prime minister as part of his address at the WTTC Global Summit in Bangkok which ended yesterday.

He said he had seen for himself how the transformation could be “very rapid”.

“I’ve seen that time and again, tourism helps a poor country become developing countries, developing countries become prosperous countries, richer countries themselves deliver many more things that people crave for. And it’s not just a source of wealth, it’s a force for good. That’s why you had and always will have my unwavering support in principle and in practice,” he said.

London at twilight

He described his own story of how tourism helped him when he came to office as prime minister.

“We came to power in 2010, with the number one task of rescuing the public finances – there was literally a note left for us by my predecessor saying, ‘I’m afraid there is no more money.’ So we had to kickstart our economy, we had to mobilise our trade, investment, innovation and, yes, tourism. And in the first few years of government, the contribution of tourism to the economy increased by one-fifth,” he recounted.

He said when he came to office as prime minister, he knew it was “no good simply delegating this area with such potential to a junior minister and leaving them to get on with it”.

“I knew that if you want to drive change, you need a leader, the prime minister, to take responsibility for it. And that’s what I did. In 2011 I called our top branding experts into the Cabinet room at No 10 Downing St. I personally chose the winning campaign and the slogan Britain is Great and I was right behind it from the start all the way through, and by 2015 that campaign had generated an estimated return of £1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion)…It is not national vanity but it’s about national opportunity, showcasing what you’ve got for the maximum advantage.

“So I’ve seen it for myself how tourism has the power to transform countries,” emphasised Cameron.

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