WTTC publishes new report on cyber risks for the travel and tourism sector

At its 21st Global Summit in Manila last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) released an important new report to help inform industry stakeholders about how ‘cyber resilience’ is influencing the global travel and tourism industry, and helping them plan for a better and safer future.

Titled “Codes to Resilience”, the report was produced in partnership with Microsoft, drawing on extensive desk research and in-depth interviews with some of the industry’s leading cybersecurity experts, who work for travel and tourism companies in leading companies such as Mastercard, JTB and Carnival. Company, among others.

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The WTTC report focuses on the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses around the world, including the travel industry, to move their transactions further into the digital space. And, while increased digitization presents new ways and opportunities to do business, it also opens up a whole new set of challenges, particularly when it comes to cybercrime.

The inaugural Codes to Resilience report is divided into three sections: cyber resilience, key issues and seven good practices. The final part outlines “important pillars of effective and resilient cyber systems,” based on lessons the organization learned before and during the pandemic.

“Digitalization has enabled the industry to improve its consumer offering and its opportunities for employees, but it has also introduced new risks,” the report reads. “These risks represent enormous financial, operational and reputational threats to the industry, requiring that they be proactively identified and addressed to ensure the long-term resilience of travel and tourism.”

According to its findings, 72% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe have already been the prey of at least one cyberattack in the past. And, since SMBs make up 80% of all travel and tourism businesses, protecting against cyber incursions must remain an industry priority.

The pivotal report outlines four key issues that must be addressed for any organization to strengthen cyber protection and improve resilience: securing identity data, securing business operations, understanding the impact of COVID-19, and managing of global legislation.

Technology and digitalization are playing a key role in making the travel experience smoother, from booking a vacation to checking in for a flight or boarding a cruise,” said Julia Simpson, President and CEO. of the management of the WTTC. “But the impact of cyberattacks carries enormous financial, reputational and regulatory risks.”

Even before the influence of the pandemic, the level of cybercrime was on the rise, with a 67% increase in cyber breaches across all industries between 2015 and 2019. In 2019, the average number of cyber breaches across all industries increased by 11%, while the average dollar cost of cybercrime to an organization was calculated at US$13 million.

The full content of the Codes to Resilience report can be downloaded for free here.

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