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Highlights from the 21st World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit

Seems like there are clear skies ahead for global travel and tourism, and the Philippines is well on board. 

“In the nearly two years where international travel was put on hold, the Philippines has been busy preparing for the day when our country would be open to the world. We have put in place guidelines that will ensure the safety of our guests, our tourism workforce, and our community.”

The Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat had these optimistic words to say at the press conference of the 21st World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, held last April 20, 2022, at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. 

It’s the best place to report the sunny outlook for Philippine tourism—after all, the WTTC is considered as one of the most influential Travel & Tourism events worldwide, attended by some of the industry’s global leaders and prominent personalities. 

WTTC’s president and CEO, Julia Simpson, had encouraging remarks to report: “Our expert analysis shows that the travel and tourism economy has turned a corner and is firmly on the road to recovery. This growth was primarily built on domestic travels and very much pioneered and led by Secretary Bernadette,” the President and CEO adds. 

The numbers are indeed encouraging. The WTTC forecasts the local tourism industry to have an average annual growth rate of 6.7% over the next 10 years, exceeding the expected country’s overall economy average growth rate of just 5.6%. 

“We also forecast employment will grow annually by an average of 3% over the next 10 years, generating 2.9 million new jobs, accounting for 21.5% of all jobs in the Philippines,” Simpson noted.

But these numbers are just some of the exciting things that the Philippines was treated to at the WTTC. Here are a few highlights from the three-day summit:

Kevin Kwan wants his next project here in the Philippines

We might just have a new movie that will represent the Philippines on the global stage. 

In a panel discussion about the roles of movies and novels in encouraging travel, “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan teased audiences that he might involve the Philippines on his next creative project. 

When asked what the author loves about the country, he shared: “It’s a country with so many amazing locations, cultures, flavors, and of course, people. This is my fourth trip [here] and it’s always a pleasure to be back.”

“It’s always surprising—I never know what will happen, but it’s always a grand adventure,” added Kwan.

Academy Award-winning film producer Lawrence Bender, who joined Kwan on the panel, shared further details on the latter’s creative project.

“One of the reasons why we are here is we want to make a movie here. [Kevin] wrote a script, and it’s like a love letter to the Philippines,” Bender said. 

Bear Grylls shares key lessons from his adventure-filled life

“The guy [sitting] in front of you today is full of nerves. I know struggle in my life. I’ve experienced many moments of real self-doubt.”

It’s hard to believe that these words were spoken by a man who has traveled to and braved the world’s harshest places, whether it be land, sea, or sky—no less than Bear Grylls candidly shared these sentiments at the summit via video call. 

Joining live via video call, Grylls recounted several challenges and life-threatening experiences—including his first failed attempt in applying for the British Special Air Service (SAS) and his tragic free-fall parachuting incident in South Africa that broke his back—that have shaped the man that he is today. 

Grylls emphasized that by embracing our failures, confronting our fears, and keeping the fire burning inside us—as well as keeping a kind and grateful attitude toward the world—we can do amazing things. 

Jeremy Jauncey is keen on exploring digital travel

It’s no surprise that Jeremy Jauncey, the man behind the travel and lifestyle content multi-platform Beautiful Destinations, was eager to share the possibilities within the digital space to shape the travel experience of the future. 

“Today, we live in a world where over 65% of millennial and Gen Z consumers believe that digital identity is more important than their physical one,” he shares. “90% of these consumers will book travel based on the content that they see on Instagram.” 

Noting that digital is at the center of how the travelers of the future make their decisions, Jauncey calls on the industry to rethink how they reach out to their customers and clientele. 

For instance, he notes that while these digital-savvy travelers perform and prefer quick and seamless booking processes, they also spend the longest amount of time on their smartphones—four to five hours, usually—planning long, epic travels, referencing short-form content they see on social media. 

As such, this should motivate the industry on how they should market (and who should market) their travel and tourism experiences online, from ease of booking, delivering virtual moments prior to in-person destination offerings (Jauncey is eager to learn more about how the metaverse can help deliver new and engaging travel experiences that may augment in-person travel), and making your tourist locations conducive for creating digital content. 

Melati Wijsen has a clear message for sustainability

If there’s a beacon of hope amid the crises that we are facing today, it’s that young leaders like Melati Wijsen are taking charge and making waves in saving the world. 

The founder of youth-driven Bye Bye Plastic Bags campaign,  which led to the banning of all single-use plastic bags in Bali in 2018, was invited to the summit to discuss why she started this campaign, her advice for on how people can effectively communicate sustainability, how the youth can take part in activities that will bring out true change…

A well-known Indonesian environmental activist, Wijsen was only 12 years old when she co-founded the campaign with her sister Isabel. 

Now 21, she also heads YOUTHTOPIA, a platform that helps the youth answer the question of how they can help make a change. The organization supports young people through masterclasses, mentorships, and workshops. Participants are those who have their own track records of change that focus on the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

On top of these highlights, the three-day summit shone the spotlight on important topics such as the latest travel trends, sustainable investment prospects, meaningful human connections despite contactless interventions, environmental preservation, traveler confidence, seamless international mobility, and inequalities in the travel and tourism industry.

Events like the WTTC present a brighter future for the local and global tourism industry, signaling that major steps are being done to ensure that the world will be able to travel again, reimagined and revitalized for the new normal.