As elections take place around the world, what policies would the travel industry vote for?

This year's elections around the world have the tourism sector on edge, with many wondering what they could mean for their businesses

(Source: Belvera Partners)

This will be a historic year for elections around the world, as citizens from 64 countries (plus the EU) will go to the polls – a record number that, according to Time Magazine, represents almost half of the world's population.

It is frustrating that, despite accounting for one in ten jobs, according to the WTTC, the tourism sector is not often featured in election campaign themes and promises. So we spoke to leaders from across the tourism value chain to ask them: what do you think new governments should do about tourism?

Sami Doyle, CEO of TMU Management, a data-driven travel insurance intermediary, responded bluntly: “There is an urgent need for consistent global package travel legislation. We hope to see a concerted effort by parties to progress legislation that protects the rights of passengers and travel sellers, focusing on the financial protection options available to them under the respective package travel regulations.” Most holidaymakers opt for package holidays, so protecting travellers in the event of airline cancellation or insolvency is a priority for the industry. The industry is seeking clarity, consistency and harmonisation across borders in the legislative approach to financial protection. This poses a number of challenges for travel companies as it can introduce barriers to trade and provide a competitive advantage to one legislative region over another. The recent sudden collapse of the giant FTI, Europe’s third largest tour operator, only demonstrates the importance of getting things right.”

One topic that is coming up in policy debates is sustainability. For Martin Eade of Vibe, a provider of search and booking technology for online travel sellers, this is a golden opportunity to standardise the calculation and reporting of emissions. “What the travel industry needs is a standard, clear and consistent way of calculating emissions from transport and accommodation. Without this, how can we expect travellers to prioritise sustainability when booking? A study by recently revealed that travellers are eager to book more sustainable trips. So providing them with clear and accurate sustainability information across all booking sources will enable them to make informed choices and hold all sellers and suppliers to the same standards – something that is not currently the case, even in a country like the UK, let alone globally.”

As for the aviation sector, Maxim Sevastianov of Trava, whose technology revolutionises post-booking processes for online travel sellers, highlights the challenges posed by airline disruptions. “Current regulations on refunds and rebooking are confusing, particularly as the US does not require airlines to refund or cover costs in cases where weather has played a role in the delay, whereas the EU does. Greater international coordination and consistency is needed to protect consumers and their travel agents when flights are cancelled or delayed, as well as establishing agreed frameworks on how to handle claims or manage assistance during delays. We need to continue working to restore consumer confidence in travel – it should be a priority for any government.”

One issue that does appear on the national news agenda, at least in countries dependent on tourism, is "overtourism" and within it the issue of short-term rentals (STR) comes up again and again. Many are calling for fairer regulation between hotels and short-term rentals. Adam Harris, CEO of Cloudbeds, the leading hospitality technology platform, explains: “It’s not fair to any industry that jurisdictional changes happen too often. Whether it’s short-term rentals, a hotel campground, a hostel or a hotel group with multiple properties, operators deserve transparency, a long-lasting set of rules and a level playing field. Our industry needs good policy and that policy needs to be long-lasting. With good policies that don’t change every six months, systems can adapt and create a universal application, meaning innovation can accelerate to create a healthier industry and a happier customer. Right now, we’re stuck. Many voters are concerned about this, and we hope politicians take note during this election cycle.”

Fuente: Belvera Partners.

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