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Are Tourism Leaders a Success or Failure? UNWTO, WTTC, WTN

, Are Tourism Leaders a Success or Failure?  UNWTO, WTTC, WTN, eTurboNews | eTN
The MOU was signed by WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

With tourism booming are global travel and tourism associations still relevant and necessary – or are the global leaders behind them key?

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In a new liberated travel and tourism world after COVID where those that can afford can get out can travel again, the sector is currently spoiled with record numbers of visitors, full flights and hotels, and overtourism.

Instead of promoting more visitors to a country or region, well-known tourist destinations work hard on educating visitors to respect the culture and only select them when visitors are ready to spend the big money.

The Hawaii Example of a better tourism

Hawaii is a classical example where visitors can pay close to $1000 a night to stay in a better motel-type “resort.” The Hawaii Tourism Authority is spending taxpayers’ money to discourage traditional beach and party tourism.

, Are Tourism Leaders a Success or Failure?  UNWTO, WTTC, WTN, eTurboNews | eTN

In the process, HTA has been working hard to throw unknown Hawaiian words into its promotional plans, so residents and visitors understand this destination is special.

Created in partnership with the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, the Ma‘ema‘e Toolkit is a concerted effort to address this concern as it relates to the way Hawai‘i is marketed as a global visitor destination.

The toolkit will provide essential information one needs to accurately and authentically promote the Hawaiian Islands. From geographical and cultural information to descriptions of Hawai‘i traditions and customs, this is your guide to basic knowledge about Hawai‘i.

The name of this toolkit is Maʻemaʻe, which translates to cleanliness and purity in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (the Hawaiian language). The word’s meaning is of particular significance to this project as it represents the idea that descriptions of and promotions relating to Hawai‘i should be “clean, attractive, and pure.” That is, they should be free from misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

The 2023 Hawaiʻi Commute Challenge from August 1 through 31 is meant to lessen traffic, combat climate change, and help Oʻahu achieve our state and county goals of becoming carbon-neutral by 2045 is the latest appeal to residents and visitors.

Hawaii residents and visitors will be challenged to walk, bike, bus, carpool, or hop on public transit to earn points for chances to win prizes!

The appeal: Reduce your use of being a single-occupancy vehicle driver throughout the month of August. 

With this participation, Hawaii Tourism Authority hopes its tourism industry workforce will become sustainable transportation ambassadors when interacting with visitors and encourage them to also try new sustainable modes of transportation when visiting Oʻahu.  

Kūhiō Beach Hula Show and other “authentic cultural experiences” in Waikīkī are some of the activities promoted by tourism officials.

Should this approach by Hawaii work as a global example, or is it destroying tourism the way we know it?

In achieving global sustainability and responsible tourism it takes three to play in harmony. The government, the private sector, and the visitor.

In times when tourism is booming, and airlines are beyond capacity it’s easy to say, we want only responsible and high-spending tourists. Forgotten are the COVID times when there was no tourism and everyone was ready to welcome anyone, even if they spend only a little money.

Global leadership during COVID was either at its best or its worst

The World Travel and Tourism Council WTTC is claiming to represent the private sector. It established its crisis mode during COVID with the help of the largest travel and tourism enterprises in the world. This initiative by former CEO Gloria Guevara kept coordination and cooperation between the leading private sectors together.

At the same time, Gloria was seen as responsive, and open to questions and ideas. The cooperation between the public sector failed, except for PR opportunities the current secretary general saw to make himself look good and win a renewed term during the worst of COVID.

As of today, UNWTO remained the most unresponsive organization for journalists to get to.

eTurboNews was banned from UNWTO press conferences, while sympathetic hand-picked media from Georgia (the home country of the Secretary-General) was given priority to further Zurab’s goal of making himself look great, and cover up dark inhouse realities.

Once tourism was booming again, once the last Summit of WTTC successfully concluded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last year sending vibes of hope and encouragement to the world, it remained quiet around WTTC.

WTTC has been absent from important events and discussions but is pushing its money-making commercial studies and surveys. CEO Julia Simpson shielded herself from the media not responding to any uncomfortable questions. She hired Liz Ortiguera the former PATA CEO who had left PATA from one day to another last year under suspicious circumstances. Both Julia and Liz had not been responding to questions by eTurboNews.

Several long-year members left WTTC recently questioning if the World Travel and Tourism Council and its CEO are in trouble.

UNWTO remains unresponsive ever since Zurab took the helm in January 2018.

Until he took over, the partnership between UNWTO and WTTC was seen as a partnership of twins. This was under the UNWTO leadership by Dr. Taleb Rifai.

Taking credit for what is not yours

Taking full credit for the need for a partnership WTTC and UNWTO announced a renewed cooperation as their ideas looking for recognition. eTurboNews saw this development as cynical and unfair to Dr. Taleb Rifai for Zurab Pololikashvili and Julia Simpson taking credit for something that was the success of global tourism before Pololikashvili eliminated this partnership when he took office in 2018.

In this changing environment, national players started expanding their involvement, knowledge, and actions on a global stage.

Among such players is Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who was just elected as chair of the Amerikas in UNWTO. A fresh wind of activities and PR is coming from UNWTO and Latin America from the moment Bartlett took the helm for the region.

It shows tourism organizations rely on the individuals that lead them

, Are Tourism Leaders a Success or Failure?  UNWTO, WTTC, WTN, eTurboNews | eTN

During the COVID crisis until now Bartlett was seen to travel the world. He brought Jamaica on the global map of leading tourism countries, looking for a change in the aviation realities for his country, new source markets, and found an opportunity in the Middle East.

Throughout the crisis and at present HE Ahmed Al Khateeb, the minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia has been seen as the go-to person for the world of tourism, and became friends with the second guy of global tourism HE Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica. He has been seen among the three most powerful players in the tourism industry.

Having billions to invest Al-Khateeb is ready to change his kingdom following Visions 2030 and the world of tourism by having his destination the next global top player in sustainability with its global center in progress.

Under his leadership, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been announcing one mega project after the other.

Throughout the crisis, the World Tourism Network became a focus for many of the outsiders in the industry too small to be on the big table.

With the former UNWTO Secretary-General participating, the rebuilding travel discussion became a new trademark in the sector and an example of how dedicated people from 133 countries can make a difference with little or no funding.

Aleksandra Gardasevic-Slavuljica, the director of Tourism and Vice Tourism Minister of Montenegro was essential for WTN on its way to becoming a global tourism network brand.

Founded by Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of this newswire, the World Tourism Network is getting ready for its first global executive summit called TIME 2023 in Bali. It will take place September 29- October 1 and is supported by the Hon Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism of Indonesia put in place as a global initiative by the Chairwomen of WTN Indonesia Chapter, Mudi Astuti.

It will be the place where WTN leaders such as Hon Sandiaga Uno, minister of Tourism Indonesia, Hon Edmund Bartlett Tourism Minister Jamaica, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, head of SunX Malta and former CEO of WTTC, Vijay Poonoosamy, former VP of Etihad Airways, Dr. Peter Tarlow, a known expert in tourism safety, security, and training, Alain St. Ange, Former Minister of Tourism Seychelles, Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman African Tourism Board, Deepak Joshi, former CEO Nepal Tourism Board, Professor Lloyd Wallace of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center, HM Hakim Ali, head of the WTN Bangladesh Chapter, Birgit Trauer, International Institute for Peace Through Tourism Australia, Snežana Štetić head of education and the Balkan Network of Experts for WTN, Rudi Herrmann, who single handed found more than 14,000 sustainable tourism leaders for WTN’s Linkedin group, and is leading the WTN Malaysia chapter.

Leaders of the travel and tourism industry in Bali and Indonesia will meet in Bali to engage in interactive discussions.

, Are Tourism Leaders a Success or Failure?  UNWTO, WTTC, WTN, eTurboNews | eTN

No speeches at World Tourism Network TIME 2023 Executive Summit

“No speeches please”, warned WTN Chairman Juergen Steinmetz who is inviting WTN members from around the globe to attend this summit.

World Tourism Network is also inviting the public for a trial membership.
Go to and click on join.

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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