CANCUN, MEXICO: World Travel & Tourism Council President & CEO Gloria Guevara praised the Travel & Tourism private sector for its steadfast and united approach during the Covid-19 pandemic and said together they would lead the way for the sector’s recovery.
Gloria Guevara’s praise came in her opening speech before delegates at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit which opened today in Cancun Mexico.
The Global Summit is the most important Travel & Tourism event for the private sector and is the world’s first major gathering of world tourism leaders since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Hundreds of CEOs, business leaders and tourism ministers gathered in Cancun for the first time in nearly a year – with thousands more participating virtually – in the hybrid event.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, has been at the forefront of global efforts to restore safe international travel in the COVID-19 era.
In her speech, Guevara also focused on the terrible human impact of the pandemic and travel restrictions which had devastated the sector and the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world; people who depend on Travel & Tourism to survive, to provide for their families.
Among these were the disproportionate number of women who had been hit hard by the pandemic. Women account for 54% of the sector’s employment, which is why WTTC had chosen Cancun to launch its Women’s Initiative, focusing on policies which can help empower women.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO said in her opening comments to the delegation: “While 2020 was not the year we expected it to be, it was a year during which people really came together. We saw our sector join forces to support our workforce and the local communities that host us.
“From using our facilities as emergency hospitals and offering hotel rooms to doctors and nurses; to providing free meals to millions and transforming convention centres in medical facilities. We have seen an amazing response.
“One thing has been clear, our Members, the leaders and captains of our sector have truly stepped up; I am very proud. I have learned through their example that leadership matters, especially during such difficult times.
“What is clear is that we are not going back to 2019; we are moving forward. Travel & Tourism will come out of this crisis stronger and better. But to do so, it is crucial we continue working together to achieve recovery both financially and socially. We need to be united.
“That is why we have chosen our theme for this year: Uniting the World for Recovery. By turning this crisis into an opportunity, we can make sure we become more inclusive and more sustainable.
“As we accelerate our recovery, we need to redouble our efforts to remove barriers to mobility, remove quarantines, focus on testing and accelerate the vaccination rollout globally, while continuing to support safety protocols.
“Our sector is one that provides opportunities, reduces poverty, brings hope, and not only changes lives, but changes the world. This is the beginning of a new chapter, the beginning of the recovery. We have much work to do and if we are united we can change the lives of the millions that depend on us.”
During her speech, Gloria reminded delegates of the steady stream of initiatives which WTTC had taken during the pandemic to protect the sector and lead the way back to recovery.
Thanks to its knowledge of its Members and the expertise of public health leaders, WTTC created the Safe Travels Global Protocols & the Stamp to learn from past pandemics and create consistency for the sector and reassurance for travellers. Over 260 destinations have recognised the stamp so far, including Cancun.
WTTC also engaged with more than 150 governments to advocate for policies and measures which would protect and ensure the survival of the global Travel & Tourism sector and its workforce.
The global tourism body also participated in a historic G20 Tourism official meeting and presented an ambitious plan to recover 100 million jobs. For the first time the importance of the private sector in Travel & Tourism was included in the leaders’ declaration.
WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Research shows that in 2020, the global Travel & Tourism sector lost almost USD$4.5 trillion dollars with over 62 million jobs lost. Its GDP contribution fell to USD$4.7 trillion in 2020 from nearly US$ 9.2 trillion the previous year, a decrease of 49%.
The sector’s contribution to the global economy decreased from 10.4% to just 5.5% last year. Leisure spending decreased by 49.4% while business spending by 61%. The pandemic crisis was 18 times bigger than the global financial crisis of 2008.
Gloria Guevara closed the session by concluding that while WTTC’s agenda has evolved, it remains aligned with the priorities it had set before the crisis. For years, it has been working on improving the seamless traveller journey enabled by technology such as biometrics.
She also thanked Governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquín González, and Jose Chapur, the owner of Palace Resorts for hosting the WTTC Global Summit.
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