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Governments need to take a strategic view to grow the benefits of travel and tourism, according to a panel on the subject at the World Air Transport Summit. The sector is a significant contributor to economies the world over and responsible for 1 in 10 jobs. Moreover, those jobs are often taken up by women and the younger generation, making tourism an extremely diverse sector. In many parts of the world, tourism jobs—often made possible by aviation—take people away from an informal economy and into a formal one.

Sustainability is clearly a challenge. Island states are reliant on tourism yet are most at risk from rising seas and extreme weather events. Tourism can be a force for good, however and part of the regenerative process for the environment if managed properly.  In Rwanda, for example, a percentage of the licence fee for seeing the mountain gorilla is distributed locally, encouraging the preservation of their habitat. There are similar schemes in other tourist hotspots where innovative solutions have been found that ensures the local communities are not unduly affected while providing extra value for the visitors.

It was noted that travel and tourism is responsible for 8.1% of greenhouse gases. Over 40% of that is travel but more than half of that 40% travel figure is ground transport and not aviation.

Solutions will require a degree of lateral alignment between stakeholders but clearly policy makers should harness the power of travel and tourism rather than attack it.

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