Bringing Innovation and bridging the silos between generations are USP’s of WTFL

Before joining the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector, Prof. Martin Barth, CEO & President, World Tourism Forum Lucerne, WTFL trained, qualified (admitted to the bar in 1993), and worked as a lawyer for several years including being secretary General of Mövenpick Group. However, Martin got increasingly interested in the tourism and hospitality sector and in 2001 took up a new challenge as Tourism Director responsible for managing the Savognin Tourismus destination. In 2003, Martin was appointed as Chair of “Tourism and Mobility” at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Today, he is a Professor at the Institute of Tourism, where he teaches service marketing, sustainable development, and hotel management. In 2009, Martin conceived, organised, and hosted the first World Tourism Forum Lucerne and since has been at the helm of the organisation promoting tourism globally with heads of state, ministers, chief executives, academia, and the next generation on a common platform across the world. He is especially focused on managing and ensuring Tourism has a broader impact on people, places, communities, and the environment. In an exclusive with Tourism India, he talks about the intent and the outcome of the recent World Tourism Forum Lucerne Camp that concluded last month.

What was the main goal of having the Indian Start-Up Innovation Camp and to what extent did you achieve your goal?

We believe that travel and tourism can be the driver in the Indian economy. The main goal was, therefore, to launch a platform in India where Startups from the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry can present themselves and meet with the government, exciting companies, and investors. Indian Start-Up Innovation Camp 2019 debut in India this year to share a fantastic opportunity for these start-ups to position themselves at the heart of innovation in the Tourism industry by winning the competition each under the four categories which are Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce. World Tourism Forum Lucerne will work closely with the start-ups that won and will help them to promote and grow in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry.

How did you come up with the idea of forming this community of people, passionate about travel, wanting to establish a new business in that arena?

Bringing Innovation in Tourism and bridging the silos between generations are the two USP’s of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne. Our industry has a lot of potentials, but there is a need to constantly innovate. We, therefore, need to be open to new, disrupting business models and ideas, especially from people outside the tourism industry. WTFL is creating such a culture and is building a community of Startups and investors with the aim to bring more investment in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry.

Do you really think that start-ups in the tourism sector can fuel the growth of tourism?

Innovation, talent, sustainable development, and diversity are the biggest game-changing subjects as far as the growth of travel, tourism, and hospitality industry is concerned. It is the balance between new ideas and existing models that drives growth, however, it is important to be constantly challenged by new ideas to have the necessary growth and be successful. The tourism industry overall is poised for job creation in the coming years and becomes the biggest growth driver in the Indian economy.

It is talked about a lot that travel can push the economy, would you care to elaborate on the same?

Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality are worldwide the fastest growing industry. Since this industry is poised for job creation on different levels, it has the potential to bring wealth and even endorse peace as tourism brings people together and makes them have a better understanding. I believe that, if India starts investing in human resources and infrastructure, then, tourism will become the biggest industry driving the Indian economy towards growth.

How important is the safety of the woman traveller and what measures does the World Tourism Forum Lucerne take to ensure it?

Women’s Safety is undoubtedly one of the topmost priorities when it comes to travel in India. With having F5 Escapes as one of our winners, World Tourism Forum Lucerne will be even more aware of this important topic and will work closely with the two founders, Malini Gowrishankar and Akanksha Bump. Their initiative, F5 Escapes is an experiential travel company with a vision to redefine women’s travel in India through education-empowerment-engagement. The WTFL is confident that F5 Escapes can further accelerate the number of women that they empower and also see them contribute to shifting the perception of the role of women in Indian society. 

What is your prognosis for the travel and tourism industry globally for 2020?

We believe 2020 will experience new trends in the travel and tourism industry. Some of them could be as follows:

  • More international arrivals will be observed
  • There will be a bigger awareness of sustainable travel
  • People will travel less but stay longer
  • The industry will face the flight shame issue
  • Over-tourism will be a challenge

Despite this all, developing destinations like India would want more tourists visiting them and they will themselves start travelling as most developed countries do.

By Radia Mukadam

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