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Travel and hospitality industry shows promising recovery and future growth, despite challenges, says IATA’s DG

Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh remarks at the 2024 Changi Aviation Summit Singapore.

During 2024 Changi Aviation Summit Singapore, optimism was the prevailing sentiment regarding the recovery and future trajectory of the travel and hospitality sector. The event, praised for its excellent organization, served as a platform for profound discussions on the industry’s path forward, acknowledging the importance of understanding both past and present trends to predict future developments.

IATA‘s Director General Willie Walsh noted that the sector’s resilience was highlighted by the notable recovery in 2023, with the industry achieving over 94% of its pre-pandemic performance levels in 2019. This recovery was led by a robust performance in domestic markets, which surpassed 2019 levels by almost 4%, though international markets trailed slightly at 88%. The regional perspective indicated a slightly slower recovery rate, with overall performance at 86% of 2019 levels, and international travel within the region at about 73%.

Looking ahead, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects the industry will grow at an annual rate of 3.3% over the next two decades. This forecast, albeit lower than the growth rate from 2010 to 2019, reflects anticipated challenges including infrastructure constraints, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and the financial implications of transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050. The cost associated with this transition is expected to influence ticket prices, potentially moderating growth rates.

Reflecting on the evolution of the industry since 1990, the distribution of market share across regions has seen significant shifts. Notably, the Asia-Pacific region has experienced substantial growth, expected to lead future market expansion with an estimated growth rate of 4.5% annually. In contrast, Africa’s aviation market has remained relatively stagnant, signaling an untapped potential for growth should suitable changes be implemented to unlock aviation’s benefits for the region.

The major domestic markets of China and India have also seen remarkable growth, underscoring the demographic trends that promise further expansion opportunities, particularly in India.

On the environmental front, the industry’s commitment to achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 was emphasized as a critical goal. Despite the challenges, there is confidence in the sector’s ability to decarbonize, supported by advancements in technology and the critical role of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The demand for SAF underscores the industry’s willingness to invest in environmentally friendly solutions, though increased production and governmental incentives are deemed necessary to meet future needs. “But just to give you one figure. If you look at the CO2 produced by the industry in 2000, and compare that to what we did in 2019 just before the pandemic, our CO2 footprint increased by almost 54%. But during that same period, passenger traffic grew by 175%. So, there is complete disconnect between passenger growth and our C02 growth. So, we know that we can be confident that with the measures we’ve put in place, with the advances in new technology, there are opportunities for us to address this critical issue.” said Walsh.

IATA’s Director General concluded, “Technology, labour issues, all of these are fascinating opportunities for the industry going forward. But as I stand and look at the future of this industry, I’m very confident that we can overcome all of the challenges that we’re likely to face. We can take confidence in our ability to overcome some significant challenges in recent times. And working together, with the right policy frameworks in place from governments, the industry has a very credible path to achieving all of the necessary measures to ensure that we are net zero in 2050.” 

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.