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The ITB Berlin Convention offers hope

WTTC: Learning from crises and confronting them together

March 8, 2022

Julia Simpson emphasises effective cooperation for overcoming crises

“All our hearts are with Ukraine“, said Julia Simpson, since 2021 president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and keynote speaker at the ITB Ministerial Roundtable. She emphasised the significance of strong cooperation for reviving the travel and tourism industry. What had once again become clear was how vital it was to make the travel and tourism industry crisis-proof and more resilient. “I believe that crises can only be overcome by cooperating and trusting in one another“, Simpson said.

As with the pandemic, the war would have an impact on the entire industry, with rising oil prices for example. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused major losses in the travel and tourism sector, but we had reasons for optimism. However, there are new challenges now. 2022 is about to witness a strong recovery, providing that governments continue to open borders and lift travel restrictions, which could give a massive boost to the economy, society and jobs.“ According to the WTTC, in order to reach pre-pandemic levels this year, governments must continue to focus on rolling out vaccines and allow fully vaccinated travellers free movement. “The EU travel pass would make things easier“, Simpson said. The global tourism authority called on governments around the world to give up their individual restrictions and enable international travel using digital solutions which travellers could use to supply quick, easy and secure proof of their vaccination status.

“As travel restrictions are being eased and consumer confidence is returning, we expect pent-up tourism demand to be satisfied. Together with a strong consumer-driven economic recovery – what we had hoped for – this would create an optimistic outlook for the sector. One would have to wait and see whether the war with its currently unforeseeable economic consequences for the entire world would destroy these hopes.

Hotel owners in the crisis region were currently demonstrating their solidarity. In Kiev there were houses being kept open for journalists, stranded tourists and NGO workers – in Poland hotel owners were helping refugees.

In principle, the industry was well-prepared for crises, Simpson said. However, governments and tourism companies needed to work more closely to be prepared for the kind of unpredictable events of recent years. Simpson: “It is becoming evident now that there are many good and faithful relations that have been nurtured over the years upon which we can now build.“