This is uniquely important for travel and tourism around the world. For the first time this year, a high level travel and tourism Global Summit was held with ministers of several G20 nations, whose GDP is driven by tourism. I was honored to speak and join the first “live” WTTC – 20th Global Summit in April, in Cancun, Mexico. Over 600 leaders joined from governments, key regions and tourism businesses across the world, with over 30,000 people joining virtually online. The theme? Uniting the World for Tourism Rebound.
The global summit was powerful, and purposeful, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a statement that the Public Sector leads Private Sector in this health crisis – we depend on the governments to align, strategize and streamline health mandates. Secondly, it demonstrated the return of international travel safe events. The ‘new normal’ of protocols and massive Rapid & PCR testing in Quintana Roo province, were strictly enforced, respectful of continued challenges being faced there and across the world.
Thirdly, we acknowledged the paradox of developed nations at 40-50% vaccination rates among their citizens in 2021; with developing nations some at <1%. Also, the Summit clearly put in place not just the pathways to recovery of our industry, but the priorities for steady recovery. The collective call to action / change was loud and clear – everyone present was incredibly inspiring.
I was honored to be asked by the WTTC to be a part of “The North American Story” alongside great leaders I admire. I was excited to share very real data – proof of travelers committing to travel in 2021 and beyond. We know that the world is re-opening with travelers around the world being so excited to be able to travel once more. People have missed loved ones, people have missed the joy of traveling of discovery, of visiting favorite places, seeing cultures. This is not simply a hunch regarding pent up demand. At Tauck we see it directly through the forward bookings. You can in the video clip below that we as an industry have every reason to feel confident.
As is clear from the video, we are finding that travelers want to travel again; and to all destinations in their hearts. Our theme is “SMALL IS BIG”. As much as travelers are respectful of the places they’re visiting, we spoke about how Operators are creating smaller, safer groups and ways of travel. Interestingly, river cruising especially is growing in strength as river cruises offer a wonderful, safe, controlled opportunity for travel, to explore once more, but in a bubble with smaller groups; fresh air environments. Small Ship Cruising, Expeditions and River cruises provide outdoor comforts and peace of mind – yet direct exposure to the finest natural settings in the world. Here is more on my perspective on Small Ships – why it is among the first ways for many people to re-start travelling internationally:
Finally, and most importantly, was a full Summit Day on Sustainability. How will our big industry make a difference to the people and places we visit, and to protect the environment now? Or will it be too busy trying to build back better, putting sustainability lower on the priority list?
We heard, over and over, sustainability is top of the list for a number of reasons. Firstly, we know that to build forward better, to rebuild our industry in a way that genuinely protects preserves, promotes and celebrates the world around us, both people in places, for the long run. Leaders stated emphatically, “Sustainability is not an appendix to Strategy.” For Consumers today, it is not a request, but a demand, an expectation of travelers and travel companies around the world. We have all seen by being grounded in 2020, the difference that we make to local communities, on supply chains, on artisans, on all of those around us, who desperately need jobs driven by the travel and tourism industry.
Tourism Cares, the not-for-profit that I am very fortunate to be the Chair of, is being turned to and requested to activate our over 20 years of experience and expertise in convening the industry around a common purpose, and proven approaches, to make the greatest impact together! United we are, as we rebuild our “essential industry” together. Enjoy the video below, which gives my point of view on sustainability as our shared call to action.
I wish to congratulate the WTTC team and the Government of Quintana Ro for all that they did to activate the 20th WTTC Global Summit. It was an important Summit for all of us as practitioners in this industry, and as travelers ourselves. I personally got incredible response from associates across the globe – Europe, South America, Canada and more. We have a new world to enter into as global travelers. We must do this carefully, consciously and collectively. We must and will “Do it Right.”