BANGKOK — The travel industry should not underestimate popular concerns about immigration, terror and open borders, former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Global Summit here.
In a keynote address, Cameron said that the industry must recognize “the concerns that ordinary voters have, and politicians have on their behalf, about the danger of extremists and terrorists being able to travel.”
“You have accept in your industry that you are going to see greater emphasis on using technology ensuring that we inspect people’s credentials at borders and making sure we expel illegal overstayers,” he said. “I hope that instead of the tourist industry and governments having a fight and argument about it, we recognize the need for security and think about the technological solutions, including biometrics data, that can help solve the problem.
Cameron’s address recognized the issues facing an industry in which policies to tighten borders inadvertently impact people’s ability to travel.
“Clearly people are broadly concerned about immigration,” said Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International. “That creates another challenge for us — to make sure travel doesn’t get rolled into an anti-immigration debate. We’re not in the business of immigration – we’re in the business of vacation and business travel.”
David Scowsill, the outgoing CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said that despite all of these concerns, “In an age of heightened security, we still believe in the fundamental right of people to cross borders easily.”
However, he said there are ways to do that while maintaining security.
“Visa reform is the biggest single step any government can take to increase the number of international visitors. Let’s lose the paper visas, the consular visits, the long queues, the bureaucracy,” he said.