The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)’s 2019 Global Summit was a salient reminder of some of the most pressing issues in safety and sustainability around the globe—and the power our industry has to address them. Held in Seville, Spain, this year’s event took on the theme of “Changemakers,” intended to celebrate the people and ideas that are defining the future of the travel and tourism sector.
As a member of the WTTC, our CEO Robin Ingle travelled to Spain to take part in this year’s Summit, where he had the chance to meet with former U.S. President Barack Obama, the headline speaker for the event.
The future of the travel industry
Obama joined Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton as well as chairman of the WTTC, for a discussion on the social, cultural, and economic value of tourism. Among other reflections, Obama helped to highlight the importance of sustainable travel and how travel breaks down boundaries, building understanding around the world.
The discussion at this year’s event looked ahead into the future of travel, including the vast opportunities that new and upcoming technology will be bringing to our industry—for example, the possibilities around using biometrics for seamless cross-border travel. Attendees also looked at growing travel segments and emerging tourism opportunities that could help to guide their path as they grow and expand their services to suit our changing world.
Addressing safety and sustainability around the globe
While the future’s bright possibilities were a key topic, the conversation also touched on several critical areas of concern for our industry to address. The impact of travel on the environment was at the forefront of the conversation: attendees discussed topics including climate change, wildlife endangerment (such as animal poaching and trafficking), and building sustainable practices into our industry.
Other pressing global concerns were also on the agenda, including traveller safety and security in our changing world. And attendees discussed the serious issue of human trafficking—which affects up to 50 million women, men, and children around the globe each year.
But while the event addressed these vital concerns, the overall tone of the conversation was an optimistic one, as Obama and the other gathered industry leaders affirmed the power of the travel and tourism industry to make positive global change. Travel brings people from different backgrounds together, challenging perspectives and viewpoints, breaking down barriers, and ultimately making people closer.
Our takeaway? In order for the travel and tourism industry to embrace its full potential, we must promote its possibilities to open up communication and break down barriers. And that includes creating a sustainable industry that understands these crucial global issues and takes action to address them.
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