VisitBritain Chairman: Infrastructure Challenges Are the ‘Iceberg to the Titanic of the Travel and Tourism industry’ 
When it comes to good infrastructure attracting travelers, it’s not quite as simple as the movie catch phrase “If you build it, they will come.”
Describing the infrastructure challenges of the tourism industry as “the iceberg to the Titanic of the travel and tourism industry,” VisitBritain Chairman Chris Rodrigues moderated a World Travel & Tourism Council Americas Summit panel to address the myriad obstacles facing tourism organisations and government agencies in creating growth and attracting more visitors. Most important among them, according to the panelists: lack of coordination across the public and private sectors, short-term planning, airline capacity, and protecting natural environments while promoting tourism.
“If you do not have first-class infrastructure, you cannot have a first-class destination,” said Joe Berger, Area President, Americas, of Hilton Worldwide, citing a prior conversation with Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO. “The Americas is at an interesting time right now. We’re seeing phenomenal growth in the middle class and phenomenal growth in wealth, and it’s creating an incredible demand on tourism. There’s an opportunity for the Americas to capitalize on this demand.”
One destination that has been able to do just that is the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to the lively city of Cancún and the world-class beaches of Cozumel. Quintana Roo Governor Roberto Borge Angulo, one of the panelists, outlined some of the factors that have gone into achieving the state’s tourism success. They include a commitment to sustainability, diverse product offerings – for example, budget hotels as well as Five-Diamond properties – and a strong alliance between the government and the private sectors.
“When you have your airports, your roads, your municipalities, when [visitors] can go from Cancún to Isla Mujeres [easily], you diversify your infrastructure, you make it a premier destination around the world,” Borge said. He also reiterated Mexico President Felipe Calderón’s remark from earlier in the Summit: that Cozumel is the safest island in the Caribbean. “That’s the case of success for Quintana Roo, and we’ll continue to promote it all around the world,” Borge said.
Quintana Roo’s achievements reflect the commitment on a larger level that Mexico has made to improving its infrastructure to attract visitor and improve their experience, according to Dionisio Arturo Perez-Jacome Friscione, Mexico’s secretary of communications and transport.
Panelist Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General, issued a simple imperative for government and tourism officials: get moving when it comes to building solid infrastructure. “You shouldn’t wait in terms of best practices,” she said. “I’ve been to lots of airports where they have that problem of not having the permission to grow. That’s going to strangle those economies.”
An equally important insight came from Ricardo Montaudon, President, Latin America, of Group RCI, Inc. “I think there’s one important part that’s missing – we have to [also] invest in people,” he said, to a round of applause.