WTTC blames UK government for slow tourism recovery | News


The World Travel & Tourism Council has argued the year-on-year recovery in the UK may only claw back a third, while international travel spending continues to plummet.

Latest research from the body shows the recovery has been severely delayed by the lack of spending from international visitors.

WTTC blames strict travel restrictions, such as the destructive ‘traffic light’ system, for wreaking havoc on the sector.

Now, despite its highly successful vaccine rollout, the UK is set to record further losses in inbound visitor spending than the previous year, during which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

At the current rate of recovery, WTTC research shows the UK sector’s contribution to the nation’s economy could rise year on year by just under a third (32 per cent) in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 31 per cent.

However, research conducted by the global tourism body goes on to show the increase has been primarily spurred on by the recent boom in domestic travel, with domestic spending growth set to experience a year-on-year rise of 49 per cent in 2021.

While this surge in domestic travel has provided a much-needed boost, it will not be enough to achieve a full economic recovery and save millions of jobs still under threat.

The research reveals that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly half on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record for the tourism sector – making the UK one of the worst performing countries in the world.

While other countries, such as China and the United States, are set to see a rise in inbound international travel spending this year, the UK lags behind and continues to record significant losses.

Severe travel restrictions, ever-changing policies, and barriers to travel to the UK, such as the current requirement for visitors to take an expensive day two PCR test after arriving in the country, have had their toll.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.

“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel.

“Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”





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WTTC calls for UK red list to be scrapped | News


The UK government must scrap its existing travel policy in order to boost the economic recovery, argues the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The body argues the recovery of the sector has been hampered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world, which are still in place in many regions of the world.

In 2019, the tourism sector generated nearly US$9.2 trillion to the global economy, however, in 2020, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill.

This resulted in a 49 per cent drop, representing a punishing loss of nearly USD$4.5 trillion.

While the global economy is set to receive a modest 30 per cent year on year increase from tourism in 2021, this will only represent US$1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending. 

The economic modelling was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of WTTC and calculated a baseline scenario based on the current global vaccination rollout, consumer confidence and relaxed travel restrictions in some in regions around the world.

The research reveals that at the current rate of recovery, the contribution of tourism to the global economy could see a similar moderate year on year rise of 32 per cent in 2022.

Last year, WTTC revealed the loss of a staggering 62 million tourism jobs around the world and with the current pace of recovery, jobs are set to rise by only 0.7 per cent this year.

Similarly, research shows a more hopeful potential year-on-year jobs rise across the sector next year, by a positive 18 per cent.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “Our research clearly shows that while the global tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of Covid-19, there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower than expected recovery of just under a third this year.

“The UK prime minister has an opportunity to help revive the sector faster by removing the UK red list policy and enabling stress free international travel for all of those fully-vaccinated.”





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WTTC develops emissions reduction roadmap


The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched the
Net Zero Roadmap for the travel and tourism sector to support its efforts to help
combat climate change.

The announcement came during the WTTC’s virtual climate week
event and coincided with the launch of social and environmental research data,
which will be produced across the entire sector and will continuously be updated
as emissions targets are achieved.

According to the WTTC, these “vital pieces of work” represent
the organisation’s biggest deliverables in the sector’s aim to achieve net-zero
emissions by 2050.

The initiative is being run in collaboration with the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and professional services and consulting
firm Accenture.

The Net Zero Roadmap will include a “status quo overview” of
climate actions taken by the travel and tourism sector, lessons learned in the
past and action frameworks for specific industries to help accelerate climate
commitments and emissions reduction.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said the organisation
and its partners will launch the roadmap at the UN Climate Change Conference
(COP26) in Glasgow in November. She added: “As a sector, we are aware that not
all industries can achieve such goals at the same time, which is why our Net
Zero Roadmap will be so critical.”

The WTTC’s announcement comes as Marriott International vowed
to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
, while corporates and travel firms from
around the globe have signed a pledge to power aviation using a minimum of 10
per cent sustainable aviation fuels by 2030.



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WTTC panel weighs in on climate change, net zero emissions: Travel Weekly


A panel of travel industry executives said today that carbon neutrality will only be achieved with government regulations and the realignment of investor interests.

During the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual meeting to address the environment as part of Climate Week NYC, Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas for IHG, said reaching net zero requires collaboration not just from science and private industry, but from government and energy producers.

“I don’t think any of us will get there without decarbonization of the grid,” he said. “We can be as efficient as possible in our properties but the energy that we acquire for those properties has to be heavily decarbonized around the world for us to be able to achieve this target.”

Gilda Perez-Alvarado, global CEO of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, said that hoteliers are not incentivized to make properties climate-friendly because of the “misalignment between the investment horizon and the realization of this benefit in the longer term.”

With most hotel owners looking at an investment horizon of three to five years, she said, “making monetary commitments to address climate change is very expensive and it eats into their returns …. That’s the reality.”

This is especially true in the U.S., Perez-Alvarado said, as opposed to in Europe, where people are generally more conscientious about the environment and where there is consumer demand for climate-friendly products. And, she said, “most of the investment community collectively has come together to think about this …. There is more education around the topic and most importantly, a lot of financing that is very favorable for building and business engaging in sustainable practices.”

Alex Zozaya, chairman of Apple Leisure Group, agreed and said that hotels need to be guided by regulation.

“We should end up doing the right thing not only because it’s the right thing, but because the law tells us to do that,” he said. “It should be illegal to do some things that have higher carbon emission and affect the planet, even if it’s more expensive.”

He said the main impediments are a lack of alignment around how to collectively address these issues, and not just in the travel industry.

“Not even within the G-20,” he said, adding that having the U.S. back in the Paris Accords will help.

Hopefully, he said, with more people caring about climate change, it will also mean more money for those companies.

“If not based on conscience, then based on the law and for the money,” he said. “It will become a better business if it’s more environmentally friendly.”

The “Net Zero Travel & Tourism: From Ambition to Action” panel was moderated by Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann.



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Guevara steps down as WTTC chief executive | News


Gloria Guevara had stepped down as chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

A former tourism secretary of Mexico, she had led the private sector body since 2017.

Guevara will be replaced by Julia Simpson, who currently sits on the executive committee of International Airlines Group (IAG).

Simpson, who will take up the role in August, brings extensive experience of the tourism sector, having served on the boards of British Airways, Iberia and most recently as chief of staff at IAG.

She also previously worked at senior levels in the UK government including advisor for the UK prime minister.


Julia Simpson will take over as leader of the WTTC this summer

Carnival Corporation chief executive, Arnold Donald, who was recently appointed as chairman of WTTC, paid tribute to Guevara and welcomed Simpson to her new role.

Donald said: “I would like to first thank Gloria for her dedication and commitment to WTTC, especially in these difficult times.

“Her contributions have been immeasurable, from helping to unite the sector as it manages and recovers from the pandemic, to providing a clear voice and direction for the safe restart of international travel.”

He added: “I am delighted to welcome Julia Simpson, an exceptional leader with experience both in the private sector and in government, to help guide WTTC at this critical juncture of the tourism sector.”

Guevara, who recently presided over a successful Global Summit in Cancun, said she was leaving with a heavy heart.

“I am very proud to have led this diverse and talented team and to have worked with so many amazing industry leaders, who are our members, and built strong relationships with government heads of tourism around the world.

“I leave WTTC after completing my mandate, in a stronger position as the voice of the private sector and the leader of the global agenda.”





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Europe’s signal of open borders buoys world leaders at WTTC: Travel Weekly


CANCUN — The opening session of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) first post-pandemic global summit featured a video of children from around the world talking about how much they missed sharing their cultures with visitors. It ended with a young boy saying, “Everything is going to be all right.”

Indeed, that seemed to be the overwhelming consensus among the more than 600 people who gathered here for the three-day conference this week, the first major in-person gathering of travel and tourism leaders since Covid-19 shuttered travel to much of the world.

“While not through it, we are on the brink of recovery,” Hilton CEO and WTTC chairman Chris Nassetta told the crowd during what he said was his first speech to a live audience in more than a year. “It is important that we work together to reunite.”

That underlying optimism — highlighted by the conference theme of “Uniting the World for Recovery” — was bolstered on opening day with news that the European Union would reopen to vaccinated travelers this summer.

While the WTTC and groups like the U.S. Travel Association have repeatedly said they oppose vaccine mandates for travel, the news was nonetheless applauded by members and delegates eager to avoid losing another summer of tourism.

Spain’s tourism secretary, Fernando Valdes Verelst, called the news “excellent.” But he emphasized in an interview with Travel Weekly that it is now crucial that the 27-country bloc makes its plan to develop a digital certification program for verifying vaccinated travelers work.

“We cannot fail in this process; we cannot go three steps backward if it were to turn out people aren’t certified by reliable authorities,” he said. “You have to have the vaccination proven from a public authority.”

The EU said it hopes to have its certification program ready by June, although no official date has been set for opening borders. Individual countries can still set their own policies, but officials here seemed confident that the bloc had finally reached an agreement for common policies and protocols. Some countries like Greece, Iceland and Croatia are already open or preparing to open.

WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara.

WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara. Photo Credit: Couretsy of WTTC

In a virtual address to the summit, French president Emmanuel Macron said his government, too, is working hard to reopen its country and territories.

“I would love to host you in Paris before the end of the year to discuss how to work together for recovery,” Macron said.

Valdes said tourism-reliant countries began pushing for the regional reopening after seeing the U.S., U.K. and Israel moving quickly with vaccines. “We saw a need to put this in place,” he said.

A stumbling block was that European Commission members that aren’t dependent on tourism weren’t willing to make visitation a priority, Valdes said. But a breakthrough came in a late February meeting, when countries including Spain, Portugal and Greece convinced the others that 2021 could not be a repeat of 2020 with uncoordinated regulation, he said. Successful vaccine rollouts opened the door for a safe reopening.

Valdes said he hopes more such announcements will follow.

Asked whether the move would result in a push for the U.S. to also open its borders, Harry Theocharis, tourism minister for Greece, said, “We feel you cannot wait for reciprocity. We’ve said this is our system, and the pressure will be on other governments.”

While the Europe reopening news was hailed as an important step toward recovery, tourism representatives from both the public and private sectors agreed that the booming rebound most are hoping for can’t happen until fear and uncertainty are removed from the travel equation.

“We need a statement from the World Health Organization that traveling is not a greater risk if you play by the rules,” Portugal’s tourism secretary, Rita Marques, told the summit.

Marques said that throughout the pandemic, there have been “noisy reactions that jeopardized the industry and increased the perception [of] the risk” of travel.

To move forward, she said, the public and private sectors need to communicate more clearly and assertively that travel can be done safely.

But the public and private sectors also need to come together to push for more uniform global rules governing testing, vaccines, quarantines and digital health records so that travelers can book travel without worry, participants said during panel discussions.

Daniel Richards, founder and CEO of Global Rescue, said successful vaccination campaigns are removing the fear of getting sick for many. And companies like his can provide insurance and a means to fly people home if they do get Covid-19.

But the private sector alone, he said, “can’t remove the uncertainty of the travel experience. That goes to governments. [We need] some level of coordination among governments so that when travelers start to book that trip, start talking about it, [they] have a guarantee that they are not going to get stuck in quarantine.”

The WTTC closed its summit with a commitment to boosting female representation in industry leadership.

The WTTC closed its summit with a commitment to boosting female representation in industry leadership.

The WTTC closed its summit with a commitment to work toward women’s equality and boost female representation in leadership roles in the industry.

“As the first female president and CEO of WTTC, it is an honor to champion this important initiative,” WTTC head Gloria Guevara said.

While women make up 54% of the industry’s workforce, “globally, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which has exacerbated the pay gap, the opportunity gap and the shocking lack of senior positions and leadership roles across the travel and tourism sector,” Guevara said. “This needs to be changed.”

Tennis great Martina Navratilova joined the closing session to launch the women empowerment initiative.

“Women have always had to outperform men, and whilst things are changing for the better, it is still a fight and a constant battle,” Navratilova said.

Guevara also announced that the WTTC plans to hold next year’s global summit in the Philippines. 



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TravelPulse Podcast: On location in Cancun for WTTC 2021 Global Summit


On a special Monday edition of the podcast, host Eric Bowman is live in Cancun, Mexico at Moon Palace Resort for the 2021 World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit.

Mark Chesnut, travel writer and owner of LatinFlyer.com, joins Bowman this week and the two discuss the latest trending topics in the world of travel, including some great news for travel to Europe as well as the latest big news in the cruise industry.

After that, Bowman and Chesnut share their experiences so far at the WTTC Global Summit, the first in-person global travel event since the pandemic.

Be sure to subscribe to the TravelPulse Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify and Stitcher.

Have any feedback or questions? Be sure to contact us at [email protected].





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To fuel industry recovery, travelers need a confidence boost, WTTC speakers say: Travel Weekly


CANCUN — Delegates to travel’s first major in-person summit since the pandemic began said Monday they are confident tourism is on the cusp of a dramatic rebound, but only after fear and uncertainty are removed from the travel equation.

“We need a statement from the World Health Organization that traveling is not a greater risk if you play by the rules,” Portugal’s tourism secretary, Rita Marques, told attendees of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit.

Marquess said that throughout the pandemic there have been “noisy reactions that jeopardized the industry and increased the perception [of] the risk” of travel.

To move forward, she said, the public and private sectors need to communicate more clearly, and assertively, that travel can be done safely.

The summit opened on Sunday to news that the European Union would open to vaccinated travelers this summer, a move applauded by delegates as proof that successful vaccination campaigns in the U.S., the U.K., Israel and other countries are removing some of the fear about opening borders.

But the public and private sectors also need to come together to push for more uniform global rules governing testing, vaccines, quarantines and digital health records so that travelers can book travel without worry, participants said during panel discussions.

“We need to remove fear from the equation, and we need to remove uncertainty,” said Daniel Richards, founder and CEO of Global Rescue. “Those are two related but different things.”

With the vaccine rollouts, he said, the fear of getting sick has been removed for many people. And companies like his can provide insurance and a means to fly people home — but only if governments allow travelers to cross their borders.

“We can’t do it or remove the uncertainty of the travel experience,” he said. “That goes to governments. And if we can get some level of coordination among governments so that when travelers start to book that trip, start talking about it, [they] have a guarantee that they are not going to get stuck in quarantine.”

Spain’s tourism secretary, Fernando Valdes Verelst, called the news from the European Commission about opening to vaccinated travelers “excellent,” and said he hopes more such announcements will follow.

In an interview, he said tourism-reliant countries began pushing for the bloc to open after seeing the U.S., U.K. and Israel moving quickly with vaccines. “We saw a need to put this in place,” he said.

Now, Vales said, it is crucial that they make it work.

“To restore confidence, we really need to be consistent with this decision,” he said. “We cannot fail in this process; we cannot go three steps backwards if it were to turn out people aren’t certified by reliable authorities. You have to have the vaccination proven from a public authority.”



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WTTC 2021: Nassetta offers upbeat opening to Global Summit | News


Christopher Nassetta, chief executive of Hilton, has issued a rallying cry to the global hospitality sector during an optimistic opening to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Cancun, Mexico.

In his role as chair of the WTTC Council, he said the world would see the end of the Covid-19 pandemic in the “not too distant future,” as we “all get back on our feet”.

Nassetta added: “The desire for experiences and connections has not changed; the pandemic has only heightened those trends.

“Covid-19 has not done permanent damaged to the travel sector.

“There are things that cannot be done on a screen – and it is important we seize this moment to rebuild.

“We have a responsibility to reconnect the world, and to build an inclusive industry for our children, grandchildren and beyond.”

Addressing 600 industry delegates in person and a digital audience of thousands from around the world, Nassetta acknowledged the industry had suffered over the past year.

He revealed some 62 million jobs had been lost in the tourism sector since the onset of the pandemic, while the contribution of tourism to global GDP had fallen by nearly half.

“We have had a good chance to see what happens when travel is stalled – the impacts are enormous,” Nassetta added.

“Tourism has been at the centre of one of the most challenging years for humanity.”

Nassetta went on to argue, only through cooperation – between industry, government and travellers – could the recovery truly begin.

He concluded: “The development and rollout of the vaccine has been a modern miracle.

“But, its use has to be a coordinated effort – we have seen with previous crises when countries retreated into their own corner.

“We must lead the way in advocating for the reopening of borders.

“Seamless, secure, health credentials and widespread testing are going to reduce the need for quarantine – using new and existing technology to reopen borders.

“We know travel has not been forever impaired by Covid-19 – the reality is, travel will be better than it was before.

“People want to travel, they want to see the world, and we just have to give them the means to do that.”

More Information

The highly-anticipated WTTC Global Summit, organised in partnership with the government of Quintana Roo, is being held in Cancun until April 27th.

The showcase seeks to position itself as the leading tourism event in the calendar, where the highest-level industry leaders meet with key government representatives to act on the biggest issues across the international agenda.

This year, the summit will be exploring the challenges ahead and providing a platform for the recovery of the sector.

Find out more on the official website.





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As WTTC summit opens, report indicates Europe will open to vaccinated visitors: Travel Weekly


CANCUN — The World Travel and Tourism Council on Sunday kicked off its first in-person global meeting since 2019 with good news: a New York Times report that said Europe would open its borders to vaccinated travelers this summer.

The report was posted online as government and travel industry leaders from more than 20 countries gathered for the WTTC’s annual summit, whose theme this year is “Uniting the World for Recovery.”

At the same time that tourism ministers here were calling for common protocols to open borders, the Times reported that the president of the European Commission said the bloc’s 27 members would “accept, unconditionally” all travelers this summer with approved vaccines, which include the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots being administered in the United States.

According to the Times, EC president Ursula von der Leyen did not give a date or details about how members would reopen for vaccinated travelers.

Spain’s secretary of state for tourism, Fernando Valdes Verelst, told Travel Weekly here on Sunday that the breakthrough came during a meeting of the EU Council Feb. 25 and 26. A stumbling block was that EU countries that aren’t dependent on tourism weren’t willing to make visitation a priority, but countries including Spain, Portugal and Greece convinced them that 2021 could not be a repeat of 2020 with uncoordinated regulation, and that successful vaccine rollouts in the U.S., UK and Israel opened the door for a safe reopening.

Should there be a spike in one EU country, he said, the EU rules wouldn’t change, though source market countries may want to impose quarantines or testing upon return.

Shortly before the report was published, WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara hailed the summit as an “unprecedent and relevant event” to help the pandemic-ravaged travel sector recover and said the summit’s goal was to spend the next two days defining the recovery and “how can we speed it up.”

At a Sunday afternoon panel, ministers of tourism from Colombia, Greece, Honduras, Jamaica, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Spain called for uniform standards and public-private cooperation and leadership to reopen global tourism.

“Let’s work together to solve the issues,” said Harry Theocharis, the tourism minister for Greece, which plans to open to vaccinated travelers and those with negative Covid-19 tests on May 14. 

“Let’s create those initiatives, let’s join these initiatives to make safe travel and tourism possible,” Theocharis said.

While the WTTC summit was scaled back, it nonetheless represented a significant undertaking. All of the attendees were tested for Covid-19 on arrival, and social distancing and other health and safety protocols were in place across the Moon Palace resort and conference center.

Another 30,000 were expected to connect to the event virtually on Monday and Tuesday. 

Contributing editor Meagan Drillinger contributed to this report.



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