Tourism ministers urge to save travel and tourism at WTTC Global Summit 2021

Published on : Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The highly-anticipated WTTC 20th Global Summit, organised in partnership with the Government of Quintana Roo was held in Cancun, Mexico from 25-27 April, 2021. WTTC’s annual Global Summit is the most influential travel & tourism event in the calendar, where the highest-level industry leaders meet with key government representatives to take action on the biggest and most important issues across the international agenda. This year, the Global Summit explored the challenges ahead and provided a platform for the recovery of the sector.




The world’s leading Tourism Ministers joined together to urge the public and private sectors to work together in partnership to save travel and tourism at the summit. The plea came at the Global Leaders Dialogue session. Key ministers and business leaders participated in the event, which enabled those taking part in the forum to discuss how the travel & tourism sector could safely revive international travel and help generate the global economic recovery.

Facilitated by prominent US travel journalist Peter Greenberg, the ministers looked back over the last year and shared how devastating the pandemic had been for the sector and how vital it was that action be taken now to arrest the collapse of businesses and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. However, the ministers attending the event with senior travel & tourism business leaders agreed that the need for close public and private collaboration would be the key to the sector reviving the global economy.

This was the second major meeting this year between the two sectors, since the private sector was invited to attend an historic meeting of G20 tourism ministers for the first time. Among those participating in WTTC’s Global Leaders Dialogue were Harry Theocharis, Minister of Tourism, Greece who championed the public sector’s lead to provide a roadmap out of the COVID-19 Crisis. Kevin McAleenan, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, said it was vital that the international community laid down parameters and followed through at the governmental level, advocating a pragmatic risk-management approach to resuscitate international travel.


Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques, said the sector must avoid taking short-term decisions and instead advocated the development of a long-term strategy by government and private companies. Colombian Vice Minister of Tourism, Julián Guerrero Orozco, warned against the prolonged use of ‘health passports’, which create a danger of first and second class travellers and become a real barrier to travel.


Also participating were Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdés Verelst, Nicole Marrder, Minister of Tourism of Honduras and Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica. Mexico was represented by Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, Governor of Quintana Roo and Federal Secretary of Tourism, Miguel Torruco Marqués. The private sector was represented by some of the world’s top Travel & Tourism companies, including Andrea Grisdale, Chief Executive Officer and Sole Founder of IC Bellagio and Dan Richards, Chief Executive Officer of Global Rescue.


Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director of Cruise Saudi also participated, along with Kike Sarasola, President & Founder of Room Mate, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) and Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio di Balsorano de Clunieres, Chairman of Abercrombie & Kent. Under the theme “Uniting the World for Recovery”, the Global Summit made history by becoming the first global Travel & Tourism event where leaders gathered in person since the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the sector and brought most major events around the world to a grinding halt in March 2020. 


Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said in her statement that the seriousness of the impact of COVID-19 cannot be overestimated. She said WTTC research shows the crisis has been 18 times worse than the 2008 financial crash. She mentioned that WTTC has worked tirelessly with its members to find solutions to revive the sector and save millions of jobs globally which have been lost and the terrible social impact of their disappearance.


She stated that the debate enabled leading ministers to share their thoughts about how the sector can tackle the pressing issues of how to save jobs, save businesses and save the global economy by safely reviving international travel. She said it was hugely encouraging to see there was common agreement by all those attending that collaboration and cooperation between the public and private sector, would lead the way for revival of international travel. She shared that it will be critical to powering the world’s recovery, so WTTC is indebted to those ministers who joined to be part of the amazing event and help kickstart the Global Summit and energise the sector to unite and make a difference.

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