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WTTC Summit 2018 Buenos Aires: Was it worth it?


The 2018 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) annual summit 2018 concluded in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

Those that are considered someone in the global world of travel and tourism got on planes and added their name to the participation list at the 2-day summit at the Hilton Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They went home after an action-packed time of sideline meetings, showing face, and announcing new developments or participating on stage.

A WTTC summit is also a place where private industry leaders meet government leaders and of course meet among themselves. It’s a place where ministers of tourism and sometimes even prime ministers go as a matter of a yearly routine

The host destination is always praised as a shining example of forward-looking activities in tourism. The program itself, even though the high level and lined up with selected invited leaders, is not the most important part of the event. What seems to be more important is what happens on the sidelines.

WTTC knows and provides an excellent platform for this to happen. WTTC is able to attract CEO and ministerial level participation that makes this platform effective.

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Of course, the summit is big money as well. It means big income not only for WTTC but also for the host destination having to invest 6 or sometimes  7 digit numbers for the honor to be a WTTC host.

Destinations are hoping that hosting and bankrolling such a high-level conference will benefit them in a big way and long-term. They share this hope with all the ministers and CEOs attending and are hoping to promote their own destinations and initiatives.

Three days after the event googling “WTTC Summit 2018,” and when looking at Google News you saw less than 20 stories published in International English language media – Almost half of those stories were from eTurboNews.

It can only be hoped media coverage for such a mega event will increase to justify the proper PR value, and considering the large numbers of journalists hosted and attending.

This year was special for WTTC. It was the first year a new UNWTO Secretary-General (Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili) showed face for a few short hours during the event as he stood next to the Argentinian President at the opening ceremony and announced UNWTO’s support and took credit for various projects.

It was also the first year WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo presided over a WTTC summit.

eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz was excited to see Pololikashvili for the first time at a press conference. The Secretary-General had been shy and unavailable and non-responsive when it comes to talking to media. Knowing this, Steinmetz was the first journalist indicating he had questions for Zurab.

Unfortunately, Zurab and also WTTC CEO Gloria Manzo did not acknowledge eTN’s request to ask questions during the only press conference Zurab attended. After the press conference, Zurab continued to ignore eTN’s attempt to ask a question when approached after the official part of the press conference.

Therefore this publication will have to continue to rely on other sources when reporting about issues close to UNWTO. Transparency and openness in the UN Specialized Agency had become a challenge after the helm went from Dr. Taleb Rifai to Zurab Pololikashvili. The pressing question is: What does UNWTO have to hide?

It should be noted Gloria Guevara Manzo and WTTC has always been responsive and open to any question by this publication.

The next annual WTTC summit is planned for 2019 in Seville, Spain. This will be another melting pot event for top leaders in the global travel & tourism industry.

It will be an opportunity for Seville, Spain to be a good host and show attending delegates what this Spanish destination has to offer.

Was it worth attending the 2018 Summit?
eTN Publisher Steinmetz concluded: “Absolutely if it’s seen in terms of networking. In terms of trying to understand UNWTO current role in global travel and tourism, get to know what the new Secretary General plans to do, and evaluate UNWTO’s activities, the trip to Buenos Aires was a waste of time and money.”

Here is a list of people and events that are actively participated at the Summit Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires.

VIP Guests:

H.E. Mauricio Macri, President of the Republic of Argentina • Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO, Hilton & Chairman, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) • H.E. José Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Argentina • Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, WTTC • Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Our world of today, our world of tomorrow

Greg O’Hara, Founder and Managing Partner, Certares • Fritz Joussen, CEO, TUI Group • Arne Sorenson, President & CEO, Marriott International

Leadership in a digital age

In an industry defined by increasing digital disruption this session will look at what it takes to be an effective leader in an uncertain climate. How will the sector cope with the opportunities and challenges of robotics and Artificial Intelligence? How will the next generation of consumers and workers shape the industry? What kind of leadership will be required in the future? KEYNOTE: • Peter Fankhauser, CEO, Thomas Cook Group PANELLISTS: • Desiree Bollier, Chair, Value Retail • Julián Díaz González, CEO, Dufry AG • Chris Lehane, Head of Policy, Airbnb • Joan Vilà, Executive Chairman, Hotelbeds Group Moderator: Matt Vella, Executive Editor, TIME Magazine

300 Tourism as a partner for climate action

The leader of a global initiative on climate change will explore the linkages between tourism and climate change, and the role of tourism in supporting global action, and a new WTTC initiative on Climate Change will be announced. • Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) • Christopher J. Nassetta, CEO, Hilton & Chairman, WTTC 1325 Geoffrey Kent interview Geoffrey J W Kent, Founder, Chairman & CEO Abercrombie & Kent, will hold his annual interview with a well-known personality and recount entertaining stories from an illustrious career in Travel & Tourism. • H.R.H Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman & President, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) • Geoffrey J W Kent, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Abercrombie & Kent 1345 LUNCH 1515 Tourism – an engine for employment Following the Meeting of G20 Tourism Ministers the previous day, tourism ministers from across the G20 give an overview of the key outcomes of the meeting, and highlight how tourism is contributing to the G20 agenda. • H.E. Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, South Africa • H.E. Kazuo Yana, Parliamentary Vice-Minister, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan • H.E. Vinícius Lummertz, Minister of Tourism, Brazil

1540 Secure and seamless travel:

Defining a vision for the future Travel & Tourism has enormous power to create jobs but only if people are able to travel efficiently and safely. How do we ensure that the world remains open to travel and that travel is facilitated in a secure way? What are the opportunities around biometrics? This discussion will look at how we can align technologies, agree and implement processes, and explore ways in which the industry can connect with governments to aid travel facilitation. KEYNOTE: Ge Huayong, Chairman of the Board, China UnionPay 1555 PART 1: identifying technologies • Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airport • Richard Camman, VP Business Innovation, Vision-Box • Diana Robino, SVP, Travel Industries, Enterprise Partnerships, Mastercard Moderator: Nick Ross, Summit Anchor 1625 PART 2: aligning the processes • Mario Hardy, CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) • Dr Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) • John Moavenzadeh, Head of Mobility Industries and System Initiative, World Economic Forum (WEF) • Paul Steele, Senior Vice President Member & External Relations, Corporate Secretary, International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Moderator: Arnie Weissmann, Editor in Chief, Travel Weekly

PART 3: working with governments:

• Isabel Hill, Director, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, USA • Istvan Ujhelyi, Chair of Tourism Task Force, European Parliament • Earl Anthony Wayne, Former US Ambassador to Mexico Moderator: Kathleen Matthews, Journalist and Broadcaster 1715 BREAK 1745 KEYNOTE: Arnold W. Donald, President & CEO, Carnival Corporation 1800 Readiness, resilience, recovery In the aftermath of a crisis, countries are often at their most vulnerable. How do we ensure that we support the longer-term resilience of those facing the growing threats of external shocks? What can we do as an industry to better prepare against the impact of such shocks? This session will explore different types of crises – health pandemics, security and terror attacks, and natural disasters – and the actions taken to enhance preparedness, management, and resilience. 1800 PART 1: Planning for and managing a crisis KEYNOTE: • Peter Jan Graaff, Director Global Initiatives

WHO Health Emergency Program.

PANELLISTS: • H.E. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Kenya • Sean Donohue, CEO, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport • Cathy Tull, CMO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Moderator: Kathleen Matthews, Journalist and Broadcaster 1830 PART 2: Recovery and resilience • H.E. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica • Miguel Frasquilho, Chairman of the Board, TAP Group • Mark Hoplamazian, President & CEO, Hyatt Hotels • Hiromi Tagawa, Chairman of the Board, JTB Corp Moderator: Nathan Lump, Editor in Chief, Travel + Leisure


0815 – 0915 Cybersecurity:

Are you ahead of the curve? This session will take an executive view and explore the nature of new technologies and the security threats they bring to our Travel & Tourism sector in the context of ensuring the collective safety and resilience of our industry. • Nick Fishwick, Advisor, HSBC • Robin Ingle, Chairman and CEO, Ingle International • Dee K. Waddell, General Manager, Global Travel & Transportation Industry, IBM • Adam Weissenberg, Global Leader, Travel, Tourism and Hospitality, Deloitte and Touche

0930 The voices of experience

Former presidents and prime ministers from the Spanish speaking world will discuss the challenges and opportunities for sustainable tourism development against the backdrop of an ever-shifting political landscape. • José María Aznar, Prime Minister, Spain, 1996-2004 • Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, 2006-2012 • Laura Chinchilla Miranda, President of Costa Rica, 2010-2014 • Marcos Peña, Chief of Cabinet of Ministers of the Argentine Nation Moderator: Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, WTTC

1015 Power, politics and policy

In a world where politics is ever more complex, and where political messaging can impact tourism growth both positively and negatively, we hear from players in the USA on how to navigate the challenges successfully. • Caroline Beteta, President & CEO, Visit California • Roger Dow, President & CEO, US Travel Association • Christopher L. Thompson, President & CEO, Brand USA Moderator: Nick Ross, Summit Anchor Tourism for Tomorrow 1045 Travel & Tourism declaration on illegal trade in wildlife Presentation of a new WTTC initiative to support global action to combat illegal trade in wildlife. • Catherine Arnold, Head of Illegal Wildlife Trade Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom • Gary Chapman, President Group Services & dnata, Emirates Group • Gerald Lawless, Immediate past Chairman, WTTC • John E. Scanlon, Special Envoy, African Parks • Darrell Wade, Co-Founder & Executive Chair, Intrepid Group* Moderator: Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor, CBS News 1115 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards WTTC’s annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards ceremony will showcase and celebrate the very best in sustainable tourism from around the world. • Fiona Jeffery, Founder & Chairman, Just a Drop and Chair, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards • Jeffrey C. Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel

1245 Sustainable Growth:

Tourism that benefits everyone WTTC work with McKinsey & Company on how to manage tourism growth highlighted the importance of community engagement for sustainable tourism growth. How can stakeholders come together to agree a shared vision for their destination? How can we shift the focus away from numbers of tourists and towards a more quality driven, value focused approach? KEYNOTE: Tourism, development and peace – The story of Rwanda • The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr Edouard Ngirente 1300 Value vs volume: harnessing growth to create a quality product • Jillian Blackbeard, Executive Manager – Marketing, Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) Ninan Chacko, CEO, Travel Leaders Group • Alex Dichter, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company • H.E. Ana Mendes Godinho, Secretary of State for Tourism, Portugal • Matthew Upchurch, President & CEO, Virtuoso Moderator: Nick Ross, Summit Anchor

1330 Putting communities at the center of tourism development

• H.E. Nikolina Angelkova, Minister of Tourism, Bulgaria • Fred Dixon, President & CEO, NYC and Company • Katie Fallon, Global Head of Corporate Affairs, Hilton • Gonzalo Robredo, President of the Tourism Entity of the City of Buenos Aires • H.E. Wanda Teo, Secretary of Tourism, Philippines Moderator: Tim Willcox, Presenter, BBC News 1410 Hollywood, hospitality and travel • Five-time Academy Award winning director and hotelier, Francis Ford Coppola, interviewed by Costas Christ, CEO, Beyond Green Travel 1440 Closing remarks • Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, WTTC • H.E. José Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Argentina 1450

Handover to next Summit Host

Sevilla 2019 will be next!

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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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