G20 tourism ministers meet with WTTC members for historic debate
In a historic first, G20 tourism ministers have hosted more than 45 chief executives and members of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to assess the future of the sector.
Minister presented their plan to save the embattled tourism sector and the 100 million jobs that rely on it globally.
During their G20 Chairmanship of the Tourism Track, Saudi Arabia requested the collaboration of the global travel and tourism sector on developing insights to help accelerate the global recovery.
The private sector event was opened by Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia minister of tourism and chair of the G20 Tourism Track.
He was joined by WTTC chief executive, Gloria Guevara, to set the scene.
This was followed by a keynote from Chris Nassetta, chief executive of Hilton and WTTC chair, and contributions from chief executive and ministers representing all regions of the world - including Argentina, the UK, the UAE, Singapore and Spain.
They joined the private sector with a unified voice to agree that through joint collaboration, the recovery of tourism can be accelerated.
The chief executive used the historic forum to outline what they believe could be a game changing new 24-point plan that would save the struggling sector.
According to economic modelling from the WTTC, around 100 million jobs could be saved through strong international collaboration, eliminating travel barriers and an international testing protocol at departure, among others.
Guevara said: “This historic meeting provided the best platform to establish public and private collaboration which will lead to rebuilding a sector which has been devastated by the pandemic.
“On behalf of WTTC and the private sector globally, I would like to thank and recognise the minister of tourism of Saudi Arabia for his leadership, as well as the G20 tourism ministers for their collaboration to recover millions of jobs and livelihoods through the resumption of international travel in a safe and effective way.
“The nature of this meeting cannot be underestimated; it is the first time so many tourism chief executives and leaders have been invited to sit in the same forum as G20 tourism ministers to establish a tangible plan to save the tourism sector.
“This plan will have far reaching consequences; it will bring real and genuine benefits to the industry as a whole - from aviation to tour operators, taxis to hotels and beyond.”
Al Khateeb added: “On behalf of the G20 tourism ministers, I commend the WTTC and the global travel and tourism sector for their efforts to put people first during the global pandemic, by collaborating at the industry-level and with the public sector to put in place concrete actions that will protect millions of jobs and livelihoods, while ensuring that the sector is more resilient to crises in the future.”
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IATA director general, Alexandre de Juniac, and Fang Liu, secretary general of ICAO, also added their voice to testing being the solution to eliminate quarantines.
Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of UNWTO also contributed to the debate.
de Juniac said: “It is critical that governments and industry work together to safely re-open borders with systematic Covid-19 testing.
“Some 46 million jobs are at risk.
“The historic participation of industry in this G20 Summit is a good start to the government-industry partnership that will be needed to revive the travel and tourism economy on which ten per cent of global GDP depends.”
Fang Liu added: “Governments and industry have been working hard through ICAO to develop and align effective pandemic Covid-19 responses in air transport, and to reconnect the world of travel and tourism.
“Hundreds of millions of people and businesses all over the world are depending on these efforts, and this WTTC event provided an invaluable opportunity to underscore these points to G20 private and public sector leaders.”
At the request of Saudi Arabia, WTTC presented the recovery plan which includes twelve points for the private sector and twelve for the public sector, focusing on measures to reactivate international travel.
The unprecedented plan was pulled together with input from WTTC members and covered a wide range of initiatives which hinged on securing international coordination to re-establish effective operations and resume international travel, including the implementation of an international testing regime at departure to minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Nassetta said: “WTTC’s private sector action plan is hugely important in supporting the recovery of the sector and bringing back 100 million travel and tourism jobs globally.
“It will take significant collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a full recovery and rebuild traveller confidence, which is why today’s G20 meeting was so important.
“I’m encouraged by the progress we’re seeing around the world and look forward to the continued collective efforts to support our stakeholders and promote the incredible impact our industry creates for communities globally.”
According to the WTTC 2020 Economic Impact Report, the tourism sector will be critical to the recovery.
It revealed that during 2019, tourism was responsible for one in ten jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3 per cent contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.
It is also one of the most diverse sectors in the world, employing people of all socio-economic levels, regardless of gender or ethnicity, employing 54 per cent women and 30 per cent young people.