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Julia Simpson speaks at WTTC Global Summit 2022

Julia Simpson speaks at WTTC Global Summit 2022
Julia Simpson speaks at WTTC Global Summit 2022
Written by Harry Johnson

Ma-bu-hi.

It’s incredible to think of what we have been through since we gathered for WTTC’s last Summit. But we are here in Manila to Rediscover Travel… together.

Dear Members, Excellencies, WTTC Friends. I am honored to address you at our 21st Global Summit and my first as President & CEO.

In times of crisis we have seen the true grit and resilience of the Travel & Tourism sector. During the COVID pandemic our airlines transported vaccines and PPE; our airports became vaccination centres; and our cruise liners used their connections to help repatriate people. Hotels opened their doors to the homeless and today are giving shelter to 1000s of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. 

The pandemic rewrote the rule book on how we live and how we travel. It showed how totally inter-reliant we are. Businesses and governments need each other to make travel happen. And our whole sector relies on the communities who host us.

For over 30 years WTTC’s mission has been to highlight our sector’s economic and social value. But it took a pandemic for leaders to really understand our worth. For almost a decade our sector’s growth outstripped that of the global economy. COVID changed all that.

Now, recovery is in our sights. It is not uniform, it is faltering, but it IS recovery. Here in Asia-Pacific the reopening is just beginning. I congratulate the Philippines, a nation that has shown determination and courage to reignite travel. But the great powerhouse that is China, is still closed.

So, I call on governments to look at the science and reopen their borders – open their economies and get travel and tourism and the millions of people who earn their livelihood from it – back to work.

Today, WTTC is announcing its latest Economic Impact Research which measures the value of Travel & Tourism to the global economy. This shows that over the next 10 years to 2032 Travel & Tourism is poised to have an average annual growth rate of 5.8%.

Our sector’s growth will again outstrip the global GDP. And with it comes employment – 126 million new jobs will be created over the decade. That is the prize. In 2019 our sector contributed $9.6 trillion dollars to the global economy. That’s over 10% of global GDP.

And everyone here knows, as Arnold said, how we were hit. A massive 50% loss in value in 2020 along with 62 million jobs. 2021 was a stuttering recovery, regaining 22% globally and getting back to A $5.8 trillion global business.

This year, we are regaining ground. Our data shows that by the end of 2022 we will have recovered to $8.35 trillion. We are getting there and our customers are Rediscovering Travel.

They say Necessity is the Mother of Invention. During the crisis we have seen e-commerce cement its position as the DNA of businesses. In travel, digital technology has leapfrogged some of the old analogue and manual systems.

But the problem’s been, digital solutions to COVID have been uncoordinated as nations made up their own rules to tackle the pandemic. And despite global leaders like the Saudis calling for harmonisation, we have a patchwork of systems that hit customer confidence with costly tests and changing rules.

If we are to survive another pandemic we need to fully integrate a traveller’s health status into their digital travel documents. A good example is the EU green travel pass that has now been adopted by 62 countries. Let us find a single system for the world.

It’s not just a human virus that threatens us. As we accelerate our digital transformation the threat from cybercrime has accelerated too. It’s estimated that Cybercrime will grow by 15% a year to cost the world US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Our new report on cyber resilience is a must read and a great tool that we have created with the support of Microsoft.

These strange times have given us cause to pause and reevaluate. There will be opportunities for those with capital who can act agilely. But the future has to be sustainable. Which is why I want to thank JLL who have created a template for sustainable tourism in cities. 

We are facing a triple planetary crisis of climate, nature and pollution. Our carbon challenges are all different -whether you are a hotel, a cruise line or an airline.So, for the first time ever, our sector has a single, clear roadmap to deliver net zero by 2050. And today we want to show our support for small and medium-sized hotels. We want to help them achieve the first step on the sustainability ladder.

With the help of Radisson, for the first time ever, we are launching a globally recognised set of sustainability indicators. Developed by the industry for the industry. Our HOTEL SUSTAINABILITY BASICS brings the best science down to the grassroots. 

Just think the tiniest phytoplankton is smaller than a human red blood cell. But together, phytoplankton produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe on Earth and most of the carbon ocean animals need to survive. Like the phytoplankton, if we all work together, we can support all life on this planet.

As we Rediscover Travel through this Summit, we will take you on a journey. We will hear from global leaders in Travel & Tourism; film producer Lawrence Bender of Pulp Fiction fame, Crazy Rich Asians author, Kevin Kwan; and we have the great honour to hear from former United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

We will also hear from the inspiring environmental activist Melati Wijsen who, at age 12, set out to change the world one plastic bottle at a time.

Thank you to President Duterte for hosting us.

And thank you ALL for being here to help us shape the narrative as we rediscover travel and re-open the world.

Thank you!

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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