The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) launched a major new report at its Global Summit in Manila today, to help the sector's stakeholders understand how cyber resilience is shaping the Travel & Tourism sector and plan for a safer and more robust future.
The report, 'Codes to resilience,' in joint efforts with Microsoft, draws on comprehensive research and in-depth interviews with cyber security experts in leading Travel & Tourism organizations such as Mastercard, JTB, and Carnival Corporation, among others.
The report shows that whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled the world and the sector into a more digital future, with the opportunities provided by digitalization, new challenges have emerged, especially in cybercrime.
The inaugural report focuses on three key areas considered critical for the sector: cyber resilience, key issues and six best practices based on the lessons learnt prior to and during the pandemic.
The report goes on to show how digitalization has become a strong enabler of business within Travel & Tourism, and given the international nature of the sector, it looks at the role of legislation around individual data protection.
According to the report, more than seven out of 10 (72%) SMEs in the UK, the U.S., and Europe, have fallen victim to at least one cyberattack, and with SMEs representing 80% of all Travel & Tourism businesses, mitigating cyber risk must remain a priority for the sector.
"Technology and digitalization play a key role in making the whole travel experience more seamless, from booking a holiday, to checking in for a flight or embarking on a cruise.
-Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO
But the impact of cyberattacks carries enormous financial, reputational and regulatory risk.
This critical report reveals four key issues to address in order to improve cyber protection and enhance resilience: securing identity data, securing business operations, understanding the impact of COVID-19 and managing global legislation.
According to the report, certain actions can help businesses better prepare to repel an attack, while laying the foundation to support long-term cyber resilience. Educating and training all staff, expanding risk security beyond the physical workplace, employing a zero-trust approach to cyber security, and transparency, among others, have been recommended by industry experts as good practices.
Cyber resilience is a crucial element to the future of Travel & Tourism, as cyber systems continue to facilitate and enhance activities between the sector's stakeholders.
During a panel session at the tourism body's Global Summit event being held in Manila today, industry leaders heard that cybercrime has cost the global economy $1 trillion and could reach a staggering $90 trillion by 2030.
According to the WTTC Economic Impact Report, in 2019, before the pandemic stopped travel in its tracks, the Travel & Tourism sector generated more than $9.6 trillion to the global economy.
However, in 2020, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill, causing a massive 50% drop, representing a severe loss of nearly $4.5 trillion.
Digitization has played and will continue to play a pivotal role in Travel & Tourism's growth and recovery from COVID-19. It is therefore essential for the sector to integrate cyber security and cyber resilience to continue its recovery from the pandemic while supporting its growth in the future.