When the Private Sector Takes the Lead

Face to face with Gloria Guevara Manzo – the new President & CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Gloria Guevara Manzo recently “took the helm” at WTTC. We asked her what she is doing differently to what was done in the past.

As you probably know well, I started in August and one of the first things I did was to ask the members for their priorities as their priorities change over time. We had a very good response. With almost 80% of our members we had the chance to talk oneon- one with the CEOs and understand the main challenges they are facing. Based on those challenges that the industry is facing and our members are facing, we defined three new priorities.

I THINK THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO WORK TOGETHER AND COME UP WITH SOMETHING THAT IS A STANDARD ACROSS THE BOARD

One of the things that I am doing a little bit differently is that the WTTC has been very successful communicating the value of travel and tourism, working on advocacy with the different industry stakeholders and governments. In the past, I think the priority was to work more on the message and the impact, as we wanted to make sure everyone knew who we were as we represent the global private sector. Now, based on the requests from the members, we are working on more tangible actions, trying to influence the agenda for the benefit of the sector in a different way. Let me be more specific. One of the challenges that our industry is facing is of course the topic of security. As we have seen over the past five years, we have seen a number of events that impacted the tourism in various destinations, and every government is concerned about the safety of their citizens. They appreciate travel and tourism and the benefits that our sector brings – the 10% of GDP as you know, and the amount of jobs that we create, and it’s almost 300-million jobs around the world. We monitor and quantify the economic impact of 185 countries every year, and we are seeing especially in developed countries, as well as some developing countries, they are concerned about security.

What are the key initiatives you’re working on?

One of the initiatives we have is that the WTTC is working with other key players within the sector to lead an effort to define a global standard that could work by using technology – in this case, biometrics, to make the life of the traveller easier, to increase security, and at the same time increase travel facilitation. I don’t see, to tell you the truth, how we can grow 50% in the next ten years, or by 2030, as is estimated by UNWTO, when it still can take hours getting through airport security checks. But the technology to solve this is already here. One of the priorities is to have something more tangible: “How do we engage in a conversation? As you probably know, I worked in the government for three years, was the minister of tourism for Mexico, so I know well how governments think and how much information they share. But when the initiative comes from the private sector, for example as happened with the transfer from manual ticketing to electronic ticketing in the aviation industry, that became a new standard. It was very successful. It was painful. I remember the migration, which was painful at the beginning, because of all the changes that needed to happen. But at the end of the day it was very successful, because it provided the opportunity to grow, made it more efficient… and that standard came from the private sector.

Today, every time you travel, you generally need to give the same information: name, date of birth, your passport, and so on, and that information is provided to the governments. I am probably jumping ahead, but what I’m trying to explain is that I think there is an opportunity for us in the private sector to work together and come up with something that is a standard across the board. Then we can engage with the governments to use our standards. They’re currently using information received from the airlines so they can receive that information in advance and have an easier and better process for the passenger at the airport. We believe that by leveraging technology we can increase safety and security and at the same time we can have more travellers and we can have more jobs. So yes, WTTC is working on more tangible things and that’s just one example.


Photo: Gloria Guevara Manzo President & CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council