The World Travel Market

November 06, 2006 06:28 ET

World Travel Market: Presidents' Man Says The Worst Is Still To Come

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 06, 2006) - LIKE the banner man who walks among thronging shoppers with a sign proclaiming The End Is Nigh, Dr. Marvin Cetron could be mistaken as the world's champion pessimist.

"When you deliver bad news, audiences have a tendency to kill the messenger, "he said. "As a forecaster, I sometimes have to deliver harsh warnings. This is always a difficult task."

But the incredible accuracy of leading American expert Dr. Cetron's forebodings is phenomenal - from predicting 9/11 to the prolonged agonies of the Vietnam War.
His fears for an attack on the White House were contained in a 1993, 250-page report for the US intelligence agencies but they were removed from the final draft.
He has advised every American president, Democrat and Republican, from John Kennedy to Bill Clinton and though today's incumbent George W Bush has left him off his guest list, he remains a consultant to the Pentagon.

Dr. Cetron, from Virginia, is in London this month (November 6-9) to address World Travel Market at ExCeL London, where more than 50,000 global industry leaders are attending the leading business-to-business travel and tourism exhibition. He is speaking on security to Captains of Industry and on The Next Big Thing in Travel to industry professionals.

He has brought his crystal ball with him and promises to pull no punches in telling management executives how he sees it.

Fiona Jeffery, Managing Director of World Travel Market said that Dr Cetron's forecasts spanning more than 40 years have so far proved uncannily accurate. "Senior management running some of our top UK travel companies may need more help in planning for every eventuality.

"Holidaymakers are no longer put off by acts of terrorism, but it is vital for bosses to keep up to date with the latest thinking and possibilities."

The 77-year-old Cetron looks ahead in a vigorous style that belies his age - "my grandfather lived to 103" - and which fits his ranking as a giant among futurists. He is speaking to the industry's top travel industry chiefs at an exclusive World Travel Market lunch and, later in the week will deliver a business lecture to delegates on The Next Big Thing in Travel.

Among the Red Alert security signals emitting from the founder of Forecasting International are threats from "suitcase nukes," chemical or medical waste reservoir contamination, and targeted strikes on:

- Air Force 1, the President's flying office
- The Presidential inauguration
- Washington D.C. with a wave of co-ordinated suicide bombings
- Large public buildings such as Madison Square Garden or the Chicago Bulls arena -with nerve gas pumped into the air ducts

In Thinking the Unthinkable, Cetron visualises horror events in the years ahead to show 9/11 was a shocking taste of worse to come.

"The Muslim extremist movement will acquire nuclear weapons within the next 10 years, if it does not possess them already.

"Al Qaeda, often under other names, will grow much larger and more dangerous than the band of fanatics that attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center five years ago. This process is already well under way," he says.

"As things stand, the war on terror will drag on for decades with many tactical successes but little or no strategic benefit. In the long run, this could leave us facing choices even more horrific than the attacks themselves."

Cetron , author of nearly 40 books, was heavily involved in compiling Terror 2000: The Future Face of Terrorism, written in 1994 by a group of experts and professional forecasters.

"They said terrorism would grow more common and would be designed to cause bloodshed on a level never before seen. Some specific forecasts anticipated the September 11 attack with almost uncanny accuracy. Despite this, the lessons from the study have yet to be completely absorbed. Many of our recommendations have been implemented only in part, if at all."

Cetron served 20 years on research, development and planning for the U.S Navy and that opened his links with governmental agencies and foreign governments; since then he has been recruited to help 350 blue-chip companies on everything from technology to terrorism.

His forecasts are stamped with authority and experience.

Disturbingly, he predicts: "Al Qaeda or its spin-offs may soon become the government in any of perhaps a dozen countries. There are many precedents for the transformation from terrorist movement to legitimate government.

"At Forecasting International we see little chance that Iraq will make a successful transition to peaceful democracy, but rather become even more hostile and less stable."

The Next Big Thing in Travel

Here are three of Dr Cetron's forecasts for holidaymakers:

- By 2010, devices resembling an iPod will be capable of translating speech from any of seven or eight common languages.

- A few years later, translation will go visual. Sunglasses, or something like them, will carry sensors that can tell where the wearer's eye is pointing, and aim a camera there. Then the device will translate street signs, store displays, or even menus into the user's native language and project the translated image onto the glasses so that it appears over the original sign.

- Radio-frequency identification will mean the end of queues at check-in and airport customs and the ability of hotels and cruise ships to track customer preferences for use in future targeted promotions.

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For further information on the above, key concepts and themes during World Travel Market, exhibitor activity and events, please refer
to www.wtmlondon.com or contact the World Travel Market Press Office on +44 (0) 1580 201178




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