Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has urged the global hospitality sector to cooperate as rebuilding from the Covid-19 pandemic begins in earnest.
Addressing the annual Global Summit, she said: “We are not going back to 2019, we are moving forward, and tourism will come out of this crisis better than before.
“But we must work together to achieve a financial and social recovery – we must be united.”
Guevara was speaking at the end of a challenging year for tourism, with the industry recording losses of almost $4.5 billion in 2020.
In total some 62 million jobs were lost across the tourism sector last year, she added, with Guevara telling delegates that Covid-19 took a toll 18-times great than that of the financial crisis of 2007-8 on the industry.
The WTTC chief added the tourism sector must avoid the mistakes of the past, building reassurance for the traveller through a consistent application of hygiene protocols such as the Safe Travels standards.
“We need to remove barriers to mobility, reduce quarantine and increase the use of the vaccine around the world,” Guevara continued.
“We can turn the crisis into an opportunity – we can become more inclusive and more sustainable.
“The beginning of the recovery is the beginning of a new chapter – if we are united, we can make it happen.”
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Guevara added: “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.”
During her speech, Guevara 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 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 tourism sector and its workforce.
Guevara added: “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.”
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.