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WTTC Global Summit Program: What happened to Ukraine?

WTTC: Saudi Arabia to host the upcoming 22nd Global Summit.

So far the ongoing war in Ukraine is not mentioned in the upcoming World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) program. The 21st Global Summit at the Marriott Manila Hotel is scheduled for April 21-22, 2022.

Philippine Tourism has been silent while quietly preparing for this event. Not much was released by WTTC either leading to the summit. The Philippine Department of Tourism is definitely missing a huge opportunity to tell the world in advance that it is “More Fun in the Philippines” again.

Is the topic of War too hot, too unpredictable, too political for a WTTC Summit Agenda?

The overall positive outlook WTTC is laying out for the global recovery of the travel and tourism sector is encouraging, but is it realistic at this time?

In 2021, the WTTC Global Summit in Cancun set a trend that meetings were again possible in the midst of COVID.

The only hint, the ongoing war could get some attention next month is that South Korean politician Ban Ki-Moon who served as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations between 2007 and 2016, will address delegates virtually.

Tourism Ministers from around the world including Spain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Japan, Maldives, and Barbados are expected to attend. It can be expected that discussions relevant to the war in Russia and Ukraine will be the topic of the sometimes more important private sideline discussions in Manila.

Industry leaders will gather with more than 20 government representatives in Manila, to continue aligning efforts to support the sector’s recovery and move beyond to a safer, more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future.

WTTC just announed the following speakers:

  • Arnold Donald, President & CEO of Carnival Corporation and Chairman at WTTC; 
  • Greg O’Hara, Founder and Senior Managing Director Certares and Vice Charman at WTTC;
  • Craig Smith, Group President International Division Marriott International;
  • Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, COO Tourism Promotion Board Philippines;
  • Federico Gonzalez, CEO Radisson;
  • Nelson Boyce, Head of Travel for the Americas at Google Inc.

A hybrid event, WTTC’s Global Summit will also feature

  • Kelly Craighead, President & CEO CLIA;
  • Jane Sun, CEO Trip.com,
  • Ariane Gorin, President Expedia for Business;
  • Darrell Wade, Chairman Intrepid Group; amongst others. 

According to WTTC, more speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

The program is currently set as follows:

DAY 1: THURSDAY, 21 APRIL 

09.45 – 10.20 OPENING CEREMONY 

Cultural Performance 

Arnold Donald (Confirmed) Chair, World Travel & Tourism Council 

Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (Confirmed), Secretary of Tourism, Philippine Department of Tourism 

10.20 –10.30 OPENING SPEECH 

Julia Simpson (Confirmed) President & Chief Executive Officer, World Travel & Tourism Council 

10.30 – 11.25 SESSION 1 – CO-EXISTING WITH COVID-19 

10.30 – 11.05 Panel: Redefining Travel in a Changing World 

With forecasts estimating a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels no earlier than 2022 and unequal access to vaccines globally, the Travel & Tourism sector needs to learn to adapt to an ever-changing world where travel restrictions can change overnight, and traveller demands continue to evolve. As a sector that is all about people, how does Travel & Tourism continue to offer incredible experiences and drive social progress while still protecting health, preserving the environment, and responding to a rapidly changing landscape? What will define the Travel & Tourism sector in this new environment? 

11.05 – 11.30 Hotseat: Financing Recovery 

2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for Travel & Tourism, requiring agility from governments and effective support measures to respond to the volatile and rapidly changing context. Many COVID-19 related policies were initially implemented with the expectation that this would be a short-lived crisis, yet the crisis persisted. What have been the implications of the extended nature of the crisis from a policy perspective and what should be prioritised in the financing of the sector’s recovery? 

11.30– 12.10 STRATEGIC INSIGHT SESSIONS IN PARALLEL 

1. Beyond Traffic Lights 

According to IATA’s traveller survey, 86% of respondents are willing to get tested, but 70% also believe that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel. Yet it is only one of several barriers to resuming international mobility. As we look to the future, how can the sector help drive the global adoption of interoperable health passes, reduce protocols for vaccinated travellers and ensure a data-driven risk-based and internationally harmonised approach to re-establish freedom of movement? 

2. Travel with Confidence (virtual, pre-recorded) 

64% of consumers, from all generations, are willing to give up social media for a month to go on vacation safely, indicating the pent-up demand and confidence in travel. To improve traveller confidence, protect staff and enable travel, the sector implemented rigorous health and hygiene protocols and testing while adapting to evolving scientific recommendations and changing government requirements. Clear communication and collaboration have been key to improving confidence in the sector but what more can be done to further accelerate recovery and rebuild trust? 

3. Connected & Recharged (virtual, pre-recorded) 

From biometric scans and digital passes to in-app room keys and robots that handle luggage and cleaning, a fully contactless travel experience is not far away. The preference for contactless experiences is cross-generational with 48% of Baby Boomers in a recent survey being the most likely to want technology to reduce queues and congestion in public spaces. As new technologies enable more nuanced contactless interventions, how can the sector refine the contactless experience while still maintaining meaningful human connections? 

4. Reinvesting with Purpose (virtual, pre-recorded) 

Capital investment in Travel & Tourism amounted to US$ 986 billion in 2019, a figure which decreased by 29.7% to US$ 693 billion in 2020. Yet, to unlock the sector’s recovery and future growth, the investment will be critical. As destinations work towards attracting sustainable investment, they will not only need to create an enabling business environment but also consider new opportunities surfacing as a result of shifting consumer and industry trends. Looking ahead, what are the most interesting sustainable investment opportunities within Travel & Tourism for both destinations and the private sector? 

13.10 – 14.35 SESSION 2 – BOUNCING FORWARD 

Leaders share how they are turning this crisis into an opportunity to bounce forward. 

New Trends on the Block 

From a surge in workcations and remote working to the implementation of digital passes and more stringent health and hygiene protocols, it is clear that new trends have emerged in Travel & Tourism since early 2020. A recent survey revealed that 69% of travellers are increasingly looking to visit lesser-known destinations in 2021 and 55% are interested in carbon-negative travel. As traveller demands and expectations shift, what are the new trends that the sector should watch out and prepare itself for? 

14.05 – 14.20 Keynotes: The Future of our Planet 

Leaders share their vision and approach to ensure the preservation of our people and planet through the long-term sustainability of the Travel & Tourism sector. 

14.20 – 15.00 STRATEGIC INSIGHT SESSIONS IN PARALLEL 

1. The Business of Travel 

Although business travel represented 21.4% of global travel and totalled US$1.3 trillion in 2019, it has been responsible for the highest spending in many destinations, making it essential for the recovery of the sector. Still, the value of business travel extends beyond dollars, it enables businesses to build relationships and stronger cultures, while spurring innovation and attracting new talent. As the sector recovers and responds to new traveller demands, how will business travel evolve, and will there be a rise of a new kind of leisure travel? 

2. Transported to the Future (virtual, pre-recorded) 

From space travel and self-driving cars to biometrics and robots delivering luggage, the Travel & Tourism sector continues to embrace new technologies to facilitate and enhance travel. In fact, with digital adoption being further accelerated as a result of COVID-19, significant opportunities lie ahead. As technological interventions continue to reshape human life and business, pushing society into the future, what does the future of transportation look like and how are new technologies enhancing Travel & Tourism? 

3. Password Protected (virtual, pre-recorded) 

In 2020, cybercrime cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion, a figure which could reach US$ 90 trillion in net economic impact by 2030. In an increasingly digitised world, cybersecurity needs to be a priority. As businesses move to more hybrid models and remote work is normalised, cyber security models must adapt quickly. While innovations such as facial IDs and multi-step verification processes already exist, how can the sector protect personal information, and mitigate future breaches, while still creating a seamless process for employees and customers alike? 

4. Luxury 2.0 (virtual, pre-recorded) 

Valued at US$946 billion in 2019, the luxury travel market was forecasted to reach US$1.2 trillion by 2027. Yet, as COVID-19 pushed more travellers to seek to create their own bubbles while travelling, elements of traditional luxury may have become mainstream. From paying extra to have an entire villa or luxury safari lodge to themselves for a family vacation or hiring a private car or small yacht, travellers seem willing to spend more per holiday. How is this trend changing the definition of luxury tourism and what are the implications for Travel & Tourism businesses? 

15.00– 15.30 Panel: Work, Reimagined 

In 2020, 62 of the 334 million jobs were destroyed, with millions more at risk. Simultaneously, COVID-19 led to the acceleration of digitisation, shifting skillset requirements, and normalising remote work. With people being Travel & Tourism’s most valuable asset, how will the sector reimagine the future of work, upskill and retain qualified talent, whilst attracting new talent and addressing labour shortages? 

16.10 – 18.00 SESSION 3 – REDEFINING IMPACTFUL DESTINATIONS 

Beyond Economics: A Sustainable Transition 

Travel & Tourism plays an important role, not only in driving economic growth but also in enhancing social progress and preserving our planet. As the sector accelerates its journey to Net-Zero and continues to prioritise the environment, WTTC, with the support of the Radisson Hotel Group, engaged the global hotel industry to develop universally accessible, pre-competitive sustainability criteria, in full alignment with existing schemes and frameworks. What are these criteria and how can global hotels, regardless of size, access them to raise the bar and enhance our achievement of sustainability targets? 

Panel: Destination 2030 

COVID-19 reinforced the need to find balance and rethink priorities. It led to renewed appreciation for travel and reinvigorated the commitment to protect people and the planet. With nearly 50% of international travel taking place in cities in 2019 and a rising desire of travellers to discover secondary, tertiary and even rural destinations, destination readiness will only increase in importance going forward. With sustainability being key to competitiveness, how can destinations deepen their engagement with local communities and ready themselves, to ensure they capitalise on all the opportunities Travel & Tourism has to offer? 

Pushing Boundaries 

This one-on-one conversation with Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull will focus on his experience as a global leader driving policy change to create a more inclusive and sustainable society. His passion for energy issues and fostering inclusive environments led to his involvement in a number of policies relating to environmental conservation, energy crises, cyber security, inclusion, job creation, and more. In this moderated conversation, he will discuss lessons in leadership, international governmental affairs, and implementing change for the inclusive and sustainable growth of the environment and society. 

DAY 2: FRIDAY 22 APRIL 

09.00 – 10.15 SESSION 4 –SUSTAINING REGENERATIVE TRAVEL 

The Future of our Planet 

Leaders share their vision and approach to ensure the preservation of our people and planet through the long-term sustainability of the Travel & Tourism sector. 

Our Journey to Regeneration 

From climate neutrality and plastic reduction to stimulating the growth and rehabilitation of wildlife and the natural environment, the sector is making strides towards regeneration. However, with CO2 emissions expected to climb to record levels by 2023, more needs to be done, including further involving travellers and communities in regeneration goals. As the sector continues its journey towards regeneration, how can the sector be even more proactive and intentional to leave a lighter footprint but make a lasting difference? 

Flash Learnings: New Horizons 

Leaders will explore the rise of adventure tourism, the great outdoors and rural travel and how these trends can support destinations, people and planet. 

11.10 – 14.00 SESSION 5 – RECOMMITTING TO HUMANITY 

Panel: You Belong Here 

Hiring diverse people and ensuring they feel welcome and can succeed is not only the right thing to do but good business. Indeed, companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more  likely to outperform their peers. However, many diverse groups are hired and then left to navigate an environment that is ill-equipped to enable their success. How can Travel & Tourism further enable the success of marginalised groups, foster a welcoming environment, and prioritise diversity at all levels and in all interactions? 

Hotseat: Rebalancing the Equation 

It will take 136 years to close the gender gap worldwide; a gap that has been widened due to COVID-19, during which women have been disproportionately affected. Despite Travel & Tourism’s diversity, with women accounting for over 50% of the sector’s workforce, barriers persist. How can the Travel & Tourism sector create a truly equitable system in which the representation of women in leadership and the pay gap is addressed and where culture, policies and incentives are reframed to truly change the equation? 

Panel: Communities at the Core 

Communities are at the centre of the sector, imparting centuries of experience and wisdom in supporting the natural environment, creating immersive experiences for travellers and, often, forming the skilled workforce for Travel & Tourism businesses. With 59% of travellers interested in “philantourism” and a rise in demand for immersive community experiences, how can the private and public sectors better collaborate with local communities to deliver enriching experiences for all those involved? 

Cultivating a Sustainable Future 

This one-on-one conversation with Melati Wijsen will focus on her personal experience as a changemaker, young leader and environmental activist. From co-founding Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 at the age of 12, which led to the banning of plastic bags in Bali, to influencing change on global stages, Melati remains a dedicated and inspired leader. In this moderated conversation, she will discuss lessons in enabling global youth changemakers through her new company YOUTHTOPIA, prioritising the environment and supporting female entrepreneurship. 

14.00 – 14.30 CLOSING CEREMONY 

  • Julia Simpson (Confirmed) President & Chief Executive Officer, World Travel & Tourism Council 
  • Philippines Official 
  • 2022 Host  

To reach close to pre-pandemic levels this year, WTTC says governments across the region and around the world must continue focusing on the vaccine and booster rollout – allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely without the need for testing.

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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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