Solidarity in the private sector set to drive industry out of doldrums

Exclusive interview: Maribel Rodriguez, Senior Vice President, Membership & Commercial at World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

WTTC has been very active as the COVID-19 crisis progresses. We asked Maribel Rodriguez, the organisation’s Senior Vice President, Membership & Commercial, how important the role of the organisation is in terms of helping the industry survive the storm.

It’s crucial. WTTC has been very active, because we represent the private sector from the travel & tourism industry, that has been one of the most affected sectors. That’s why we need to work all together to take the same direction on the path to recovery while promoting the best practices and rebuilding the traveller confidence.

How is WTTC evolving in these times? What is changing in terms of membership?
Members are very involved with the work we are doing and are very engaged in different areas including our interactions with governments and particularly our close collaboration with the G20 group. It is in times like this that they have highlighted the importance of the work that we need to do together as a sector and unite on one goal.

These are challenging times for our sector but working together we will be able to recover and come out with a more resilient and reenergised sector.

A steering committe of top CEOs is being formed to help streamline the industry’s approach in these times. Can you tell us more about this?
This group will help us recover at least 100m jobs, in the framework of a plan we put together at the request of the Government of Saudi Arabia which is the chair of the G20 group this year. The steering committee will be comprised of WTTC Member CEOs and other business and institutional leaders. We envision to have different working groups that will follow and execute on specific areas such as opening air corridors, testing and tracing, quarantines, vaccines and government affairs. These are challenging times for our sector but working together we will be able to recover and come out with a more resilient and reenergised sector.

What are the main activities of WTTC in Asia at the moment?
We keep working with our members, coordinating with other industry stakeholders and collaborating with governments around the world to help restart travel in a safe and secure manner. We need to remove travel barriers and build back travellers’ confidence. We are very engaged in communicating and promoting the implementation of testing and tracing, reducing and eliminating quarantines, and implementing health and safety protocols across all Travel & Tourism sectors. We also aim to keep travellers engaged and motivated with a campaign called Together in Travel.

What are your thoughts about the way ITB Asia 2020 is being conducted?
This is an example of how the tourism industry needs to keep on working and promoting tourism as it’s an important economical factor for countries as well as a job-creator sector that contributes with 10.3% to the global GDP.

Photo: Maribel Rodriguez, Senior Vice President, Membership & Commercial at World Travel & Tourism Council