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The Power Struggle within WTTC Continues – British Style

, The Power Struggle within WTTC Continues – British Style, eTurboNews | eTN
Paul Griffiths and Julia Simpson in Dubai

WTTC has long been positioned as the club for the most influential private travel and tourism industry players in the world.

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WTTC, claiming to be the private sector’s voice in the global travel and tourism industry, has responsibilities. Such responsibilities require global thinking from a global perspective by a global team. This responsibility within this now prominently managed British organization may be the cause of the reason some ask if WTTC is falling apart.

The next chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council should be Mr. Paul Griffiths when it comes to the current President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, Julia Simpson.

Both Paul and Julia are British and have been instrumental in their country, not only in travel and tourism. Julia Simpson is also serving on the London Chamber of Commerce board. She was the UK prime minister’s top advisor.

Paul was the Managing Director of London’s Gatwick Airport. Before joining airport operator BAA in 2004, he spent 14 years with the Virgin Group, working closely with Sir Richard Branson as a Board Director of the Virgin Travel Group, responsible for the commercial activities of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Trains.

Julia Simpson recently returned from a visit to the United Arab Emirates and met with high-ranking executives in Dubai.

According to the WTTC press spokesperson Elena Rodriguez, Julia presented the latest Economic Impact Research (EIR) numbers for the UAE and the Middle East to a selected group of media, pointing out the promising recovery of the UAE Travel & Tourism sector this year, as well as the outlook for the upcoming decade.

According to sources, at the same time, Ms. Simpson met with her friend Paul Griffiths to open a path for him to become the next chairman of WTTC.

The first election for this post failed in April due to Ms. Simpson postponing the agenda point after a majority vote for Chairman went to Mr. Mandredi Lefebvre.

Monaco-based Lefebvre was predicted by eTurboNews on March 27 to become the next WTTC chairman.

An apparent conflict emerged, and Mr. Lefebvre canceled his decade-old membership in WTTC by the end of this year.

Even though Mr. Griffiths served as a member of the WTTC Executive Committee for two years and attended all committee meetings, he works for the UAE government. This should disqualify him from running for the appointment of chairman due to a conflict of interest in representing the global private sector in travel and tourism as a public sector leader.

Paul Griffiths is the CEO of Dubai Airports, responsible for the operation and development of Dubai International (DXB).

Following the absence of WTTC for European Tourism Day, Criticism was becoming louder by WTTC members and those familiar with the organization that leadership and staff selection by Ms. Simpson turned the organization into an overall British entity unable to serve as a global representative in travel and tours.

This caused numerous prominent members to leave WTTC. It caused other organizations and tourism leaders, such as the African Tourism Board, to appeal to WTTC to “resolve internal issues.”

The venue for the next WTTC Global Summit in 2023 was awarded to Rwanda, and this situation became a concern not only for the host but for travel and tourism leaders throughout Africa.

eTurboNews asked if WTTC and its CEO were in trouble.

Many close to WTTC had been talking to eTurboNews, but the organization has not returned requests for comments and clarification.

According to eTurboNews sources, “major powers” within WTTC are working on this situation to get the organization back on track.

About the author


Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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