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WTTC Summit 2011: David Scowshill, President & CEO

The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism is the most important event on the calendar for the industry’s big players. This year’s event takes on extra significance for one leader in particular – David Scowsill, who attends his first Summit as President & CEO of the WTTC.

When David Scowsill became the President & CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council in November 2010, he seemed the natural to take over the reins from the hugely-respected Jean-Claude Baumgarten.

His role is to represent the interests of travel and tourism’s foremost private sector enterprises to governments worldwide. He also leads the WTTC in addressing the political, environmental, social, and technological factors facing the industry, and encourages the public and private sector partnerships necessary to build strategies and policies for future growth and prosperity.

Scowsill took over the top job at the WTTC having spent the preceding six years as a non-executive director at the global tourism body.

During this period, 2005-2010, he also served on the board of private equity and venture capital backed businesses: chairman of PrivateFly (private equity), director of On the Beach Holidays (ISIS Equity Partners), chairman of (sale to Powwowow), non-executive director of ilG Digital (ECI Partners), vice-chairman World Hotels AG (sale to KP Capital 2008), and non-executive director (Advent International acquisition 2006, sale to Expedia 2008).

He was also been interim sales and marketing director at easyJet airlines and group marketing director at Manchester Airports Group.

During this period he built an extensive network in private equity and venture capital, whilst working on specific deals in the retail, consumer, technology and travel sectors. His deal experience ranges from pre-revenue start-ups to $4.5bn buy-outs.

His key strength is taking younger organisations through the changes required to turn them into a larger, profitable businesses – a skill that will prove key at the WTTC, and in particular the task of helping travel and tourism organisations in developing tourism economies.

However Scowsill’s biggest feather in his cap was gained as CEO of Opodo, the pan-European online travel company owned by nine of Europe’s leading airlines, between 2002-2004. He built the business from start up to a €500 million transaction turnover in two years, before the business was sold to Amadeus, the travel industry technology provider.

Between 1997-1999, he joined the board of Hilton International as senior VP sales, marketing and IT, driving a step change in the approach to sales, marketing, distribution and technology. He led the brand re-unification programme between Hilton Group Plc and Hilton Hotels Corporation, and was a director of the joint venture companies – Hilton Marketing, Hilton HHonors, and Hilton Reservations Worldwide.

David worked at British Airways from 1993 to 1997 as regional general manager Asia/Pacific. He established the first global airline alliance with Qantas, and negotiated a “Joint Services Agreement” between the two airlines, which has become the model for BA/IB/AA recent agreements. He became director Europe/Middle East, with profit responsibility including Deutsche BA in Germany and TAT/Air Liberte in France.

He also spent the early part of his career with the British flag carrier, starting with a variety of operational and sales roles in Europe, the Gulf States, Africa, and Asia. Returning to London in 1983, he was asked to manage the “Putting the Customer First” programme and to project manage BA’s entry into Heathrow’s Terminal 4. Following further sales and marketing roles abroad in South America (Caracas), USA (Miami) and Northern Europe (Amsterdam), he became regional general manager with profit accountability for the BA European operations.

Other aviation experience includes joining American Airlines in 1991 as managing director, Europe Middle East and Africa, when it acquired the transatlantic route network from TWA. He launched new sales, distribution and marketing strategies, to firmly establish the new transatlantic airline’s profile throughout Europe.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). He speaks French and Spanish, graduating from Southampton University in the UK with a Bachelor’s Honours degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit takes palce at the Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, 17-19 May 20011. To find out more visit


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