Ministers from around the world assembled at ITF’s 2015 summit in Leipzig, Germany to seek mutual understanding and their response to challenges in the transport sector.
The ministers, in a joint declaration, acknowledged the impact of shifting the global economic balance on supply chains and recognised that improved cooperation on transport, trade and tourism policies can play a key role in achieving resilient and sustainable development.
They said the demand for freight transport is set to overtake passenger traffic as the main source of greenhouse emissions in surface transport and underlined the need to adjust transport operations and infrastructure policies to address these challenges.
According to the declaration, growth in the number of tourists from emerging economies is contributing to increased demand for international and domestic transport around the world, highlighting the need for more sustainable, accessible, affordable passenger services and infrastructure.
Statistics provided in the ministers’ declaration show that international trade represents 50.6 per cent of global GDP and is expected to increase 350 per cent by 2050. Tourism accounts for 21 per cent of global export services, and six per cent of global job creation, with international tourist arrivals at 1.1bn in 2013; estimated to reach 2.6bn in 2050.
The ministers agreed on the fact that the shift in the centre of economic gravity towards emerging economies is stimulating faster growth in trade and transport activity, particularly in Asia and Africa. Economic linkages among countries have increased in their scale and complexity, as supply chains are increasingly interdependent, but also more vulnerable.
The ability of transport to both influence and respond to these factors may determine the effectiveness and efficiency, and also the sustainability, of trade and tourism, they said.
“We aspire to increase the efficiency and sustainability of surface trade in connection with ports, promoting efficient inter-modal connections, improved vehicle load factors and reduced idling times across supply chains.”
They agreed that high-quality, reliable, safe, sustainable, and cost-effective international transport links are crucial for the development of the tourism industry, and that transport services and infrastructure should be designed to respond to the needs of all travellers.
The ministers said they support and facilitate, wherever possible, the harnessing of new technology to make more effective use of current transport infrastructure, and recognise the potential benefits of this technology for efficiencies in transport services related to tourism.
The joint declaration recognised the potential of rail as a cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly mode of transport for trade and tourism.
It further recognised the potential of new technologies, digitalisation, and the sharing economy to provide new and flexible opportunities for transport, reduce environmental impacts and congestion, while optimising resources and improving user-friendliness.