President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States, has delivered the keynote address at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit 2013.
The event opened in Abu Dhabi today.
In a wide ranging speech Clinton emphasized the transformative power of tourism as a force for good in the world.
“I am fundamentally optimistic about the power of tourism to change the world,” he said told delegates.
“As the leaders of this industry, you have a great deal of responsibility to use this power.”
The former American president also discussed his work with the Clinton Foundation, especially its work in Haiti.
“Haiti is the poorest country in Caribbean,” he said, “but we have had tremendous support, not least from here in the UAE, in beginning to rebuild there.”
Clinton also urged the hotel industry specifically to develop internship programmes in every country in which they operate, so that young people have an accessible means of experiencing another culture from an early age.
“What you do for a living is good for the earth, the children and the future.”
Linking into the issue of sustainability, which is a key focus for the Clinton Foundation, he believes that the industry is also a force for change in the future.
“I predict that we over the next 20 years the travel and tourism industry will lead a re-examination of our energy industry policies.
“The fact that you have such a great stake in a global stable environment gives you enormous credibility.
“I believe that by simply expanding tourism and in ways that are promote sustainability, this reminds people of our common humanity.
“One of the reasons that I’m glad to be here today is because I think that just because of what you do and how you live, you will always be on the right side.”
Other Summit speakers included more than 40 leading public figures, including Sir David Frost, British journalist and media personality, Daryl Hannah, American actress and activist, Sir Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist, David de Rothschild, adventurer and environmentalist, David Scowsill, WTTC president, and James Hogan, chief executive, Etihad Airways.
Co-hosted by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Etihad Airways, the Global Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi’s five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers with a Gala Dinner taking place at the magical Emirates Palace hotel.
Scowsill said: “The 2013 WTTC Global Summit will explore the implications of our dramatically changing world economy and growing population on the tourism industry.
“Four months after the world celebrated its one billionth international traveller, it will examine what we need to do collectively to prepare for the next billion.”