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WTTC and Spain host international conference

WTTC Spain tourism recovery conferenceWith the aim of establishing actions and commitments to restart international travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Spanish Government hosted a hybrid conference, where leaders from the industry both from the public and private sector participated, covering 95 countries and more than 100 Travel & Tourism companies.  

This event was organised as a result of WTTC’s call for the leaders of G7+Spain, South Korea and Australia for an agreement at the highest level, to save the sector and the millions of jobs that depend on it.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, reiterated his commitment to the sector and confirmed the leadership of Spain by holding a major conference to discuss key measures needed to revive international Travel & Tourism.

The conference was a follow up to last month’s first ever G20 public-private sector Tourism meeting, where around 45 CEOs and WTTC members were invited for the first time at the request of Saudi Arabia, host country.

As a result of the discussions, the ‘La Palma Declaration’ has been signed by all key parties.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ includes a number of key recommendations which includes the adoption of international protocols for COVID-19 tests prior departure, and acceptance of results upon arrival at destination. This testing regime has proven successful in a number of countries, such as Spain and the Canary Islands.

The establishment of health control measures such as this, will allow shorter quarantine periods when returning to the country of origin, or could lead to eliminating quarantines completely.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ also proposes to establish international agreements to implement international travel corridors to facilitate the return of both leisure and business travel between countries or cities with similar epidemiological situations.

Travel & Tourism companies were also invited to propose further measures to adapt and facilitate travels in the context of the pandemic. These options included offering flexible bookings, payment terms, or changes, due to positive COVID-19, or offering affordable or higher value products to incentivise domestic and international travel.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ urges all parties to adjust their business models to the new global situation and work together to develop new products that drive domestic and international Travel & Tourism, as well as implementing training programs to improve and train tourism workers and SMEs, empowering them with the digital skills needed to adapt to the “new normal”.

Lastly, a more inclusive and resilient industry will be promoted by strengthening sustainability practices in tourism.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, opened the Conference and said that the results of this Summit will benefit millions of families and businesses around the world.

“The priority is to make it possible to restart international travel, and to do so, we must use new tools available, such as more accessible and reliable diagnostic tests, so that international travel ensures safety”.

During his address, he made it clear that we must turn the crisis into an opportunity to modernise the international tourism sector and make it more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable, and to spread wealth better.

In conclusion, he said that a world  without COVID-19 is drawing closer, but as this future comes, we have an obligation to mitigate the effects of this crisis on the Travel & Tourism sector.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “WTTC is delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with closely with the government of Spain in organising this vital conference, as the biggest challenge the industry faces is international coordination. 

“I would like to recognise and congratulate Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, as well as Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto, for their leadership and commitment to public-private collaboration. This is an historic meeting, and will be fundamental to restarting international travel through close collaboration that will result in the implementation of key measures that will be necessary to recovery millions of jobs.”

She also highlighted that an international protocol of rapid test at departure is crucial for the sector, and therefore the La Palma Declaration will support in the execution of this and all of the proposals presented by WTTC at the G20 meeting last month.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, gave the closing speech, stressing “it is essential to have a coordinated international response that allows international travel to be restarted in a safe and viable manner, as this will allow the travel and tourism sector to recover more quickly.”

During her speech, Maroto stressed that La Palma conference is of extraordinary importance, because it is the first time that the public and private sectors have committed to working together for the recovery of global tourism. She also said that Spain pioneered the approval of air corridors to facilitate international travel and has established the obligation of pre-travel diagnostic tests as an alternative to quarantines and travel restrictions to ensure the restart of safe international travel.

Finally, the Minister stressed that the tourism sector is a priority for the Government and that the necessary resources will be allocated for its transformation and necessary impetus.

“We want Spain to remain the most competitive country in the world in terms of tourism and for this we will mobilise more than €3.4 billion over the next three years in transformative projects, that make tourism a more sustainable, digital, accessible and inclusive sector,” she said.

CEO’s from some of the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies and WTTC Members taking part included: President and CEO Iberia, Javier Sánchez-Prieto; CEO Radisson Hotel Group, Federico J Gonzalez Tejera, CEO TUI, Friedrich Joussen; Founder and Managing Partner Certares, Greg O’Hara; Senior Vice-President Expedia Group, Jean-Philippe Monod.

Ministers taking part in this historic conference included: Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; President of the Canary Islands, Mr Ángel Víctor Torres; Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism; Secretary of State for Tourism for Portugal, Rita Marques; Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage of the UK, Nigel Huddleston; Minister of Tourism and Sports of Argentina, Matías Lammens; Cabinet Secretary for Tourism of Kenya, Najib Balala; Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ahmed Agil AlKhateeb; Regional Minister for Tourism, Industry and Trade of the Autonomous Region of Canary Islands.

Director General and CEO IATA, Alexandre de Juniac IATA, and Secretary General UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, also participated in this important conference.

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