Christopher Nassetta, chief executive of Hilton, has issued a rallying cry to the global hospitality sector during an optimistic opening to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Cancun, Mexico.
In his role as chair of the WTTC Council, he said the world would see the end of the Covid-19 pandemic in the “not too distant future,” as we “all get back on our feet”.
Nassetta added: “The desire for experiences and connections has not changed; the pandemic has only heightened those trends.
“Covid-19 has not done permanent damaged to the travel sector.
“There are things that cannot be done on a screen – and it is important we seize this moment to rebuild.
“We have a responsibility to reconnect the world, and to build an inclusive industry for our children, grandchildren and beyond.”
Addressing 600 industry delegates in person and a digital audience of thousands from around the world, Nassetta acknowledged the industry had suffered over the past year.
He revealed some 62 million jobs had been lost in the tourism sector since the onset of the pandemic, while the contribution of tourism to global GDP had fallen by nearly half.
“We have had a good chance to see what happens when travel is stalled – the impacts are enormous,” Nassetta added.
“Tourism has been at the centre of one of the most challenging years for humanity.”
Nassetta went on to argue, only through cooperation – between industry, government and travellers – could the recovery truly begin.
He concluded: “The development and rollout of the vaccine has been a modern miracle.
“But, its use has to be a coordinated effort – we have seen with previous crises when countries retreated into their own corner.
“We must lead the way in advocating for the reopening of borders.
“Seamless, secure, health credentials and widespread testing are going to reduce the need for quarantine – using new and existing technology to reopen borders.
“We know travel has not been forever impaired by Covid-19 – the reality is, travel will be better than it was before.
“People want to travel, they want to see the world, and we just have to give them the means to do that.”
The highly-anticipated WTTC Global Summit, organised in partnership with the government of Quintana Roo, is being held in Cancun until April 27th.
The showcase seeks to position itself as the leading tourism event in the calendar, where the highest-level industry leaders meet with key government representatives to act on the biggest issues across the international agenda.
This year, the summit will be exploring the challenges ahead and providing a platform for the recovery of the sector.
Find out more on the official website.