Julia Simpson, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has highlighted the significant progress in the travel and tourism sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. She called upon governments to further streamline visa application procedures to boost international tourism. Simpson, who also serves as the council’s president, made these remarks during the 23rd WTTC Global Summit held in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, from November 1-3.
Simpson’s call to action underscores the vital role of governments in facilitating the revival of the global tourism industry. She stressed that governments should collaborate to reduce visa restrictions and expedite visa application processes, which would be instrumental in supporting the recovery and growth of international tourism.
Recent data from the WTTC and its partner, Oxford Economics, reveal a promising trend of global travel resurgence. All regions are rebounding at a faster rate than initially projected, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way. Julia Simpson expressed her optimism by stating that by 2023, the industry is poised to return to pre-pandemic levels, and some regions are already surpassing 2019 numbers. Travel and tourism are currently outpacing global GDP growth, making it a thriving sector with significant potential.
The 23rd WTTC Global Summit, held under the theme “Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future” and co-hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), served as a platform to bring together industry leaders, experts, and government representatives. The aim was to support the sector’s growth and work towards a more secure, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future for travel and tourism.
Julia Simpson also emphasized the concept of “regenerative tourism” as a key factor for the future of the industry. Regenerative tourism seeks to promote a more sustainable way of traveling while preserving cultural heritage, ensuring the responsible use of natural resources, and supporting local communities. This approach aligns with the global shift towards more conscious and environmentally friendly tourism practices.
The WTTC’s call to simplify visa procedures and the emphasis on regenerative tourism reflect the industry’s commitment to revitalizing itself in a post-pandemic world while promoting sustainable and responsible travel. These efforts are crucial in ensuring that tourism not only recovers but also contributes positively to the destinations it serves.