Exclusive Interview: Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO – World Travel & Tourism Council
World Travel and Tourism Council President and CEO, Gloria Guevara Manzo, has been at the helm of the organisation for almost two years now. We asked her what her key milestones have been in that time.
One of the differences is that since I joined, our members have been asking for the organisation to work more on tangible deliverables. Our mandate in the past was to increase awareness of the importance of travel and tourism, but now, we are also working more closely with governments to engage and influence the agenda. Let me give you a couple of examples.
HOW CAN WE INCREASE SECURITY WHILE HAVING MORE TRAVELLERS?
When I joined, one of the first things I did was to call all the CEOs and ask them “What are your priorities, what are your expectations?” In my case, as I came from the private sector and then the government, if you don’t know the expectations, how are you going to meet or exceed them? It was a fascinating exercise, because we were able to learn that there are three things keeping most of them up at night. These are security and travel facilitation…
How can we increase security while having more travellers? Based on data from IATA, that we have four billion passengers, and we want to grow to eight-point-two billion, which is almost 100% growth, the question is, “How do we achieve that growth without having 100% growth in infrastructure, while we increase security and maintain that movement of people in a seamless way?” That’s one. The second is crisis management. It’s not a matter of if, but actually when and where the next crisis is going to hit. So, we want to make sure the governments are engaged. With the private sector, we are prepared, we are proactive, we learn and help them to recover faster. We are also quantifying the impact of the crisis so we can help the governments make better decisions. And the third one is sustainable growth. Yes, growth is fascinating, and brings a lot of jobs, but how do we make sure it is good for everyone? That climate change is included, that it’s good for the environment, that we have a long-term plan that is socially responsible. That has to do with things like destination stewardship to overcome overcrowding. It has to do with issues like illegal wildlife trade or human traf cking, and it also has to do with climate action. It’s all part of sustainable growth. So, in the past, we were just talking about the importance of the sector, and being the voice of the private sector. Now we’re engaged in a tangible outcome.
IN A COUPLE OF YEARS, THE WAY YOU GO THROUGH U.S. AIRPORTS WILL BE TRANSFORMED: YOU WILL ARRIVE, AND THROUGH FACIAL RECOGNITION, YOU WILL BE RECOGNISED AS A LOW-RISK TRAVELLER, AND YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WALK STRAIGHT THROUGH.
Can you expand on what you’ve been doing in security and travel facilitation?
Yes. In this field, we launched an initiative called the “Seamless Traveller Journey”. We are inviting the entire sector to share with us the different initiatives, in order to make sure we offer the traveller – because we need to think about the traveller at the centre – a seamless traveller experience. For that, we partnered with IATA, ACI, CLIA, WEF – all the different organisations – but we also partnered with Government organisms, like the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That’s very important, because we wanted to help transform the way people travel. Today, all people are considered high- risk travellers, but there is technology available that can help governments increase security and treat low-risk travellers in an easier, faster way. That means we can optimise infrastructure, so there can be more people moving in and out, we can have growth, we can increase security, and create a better experience for the traveller. It’s a win-win-win-win situation if we use the right technology and work on the entire process. But for that, it’s not enough to have the private sector working together; we need the governments. If immigration, security and customs are not part of the process, then we have the bottlenecks. In that regard, we are working very proactively. At the G20 meeting last year, we published research that said up to 19 million jobs can be created if the G20 governments use biometrics. We know exactly how many jobs can be created by country. But then, on top of that, we also talk about security. Today, while the US CBP was late coming into the game, now they are leading, where before, it used to be Europe, who were already using biometrics in 2006. In the US, you can board a plane with your face as ID. You don’t need a boarding pass, you don’t need a passport. In a couple of years, the way you go through US airports will be transformed: you will arrive, and through facial recognition, you will be recognised as a low-risk traveller, and you will be able to walk straight through.
How important is it for WTTC to coordinate with the UNWTO, PATA, or WTA, in a kind of alliance?
We work very closely with them. I think it’s crucial. I have a very close relationship with Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO. I know him quite well, and we talk very often. What we did was that I looked at his agenda, his priorities for his members, he looked at mine, and then we found the synergies, and de ned an agenda together. We did exactly the same thing with IATA, with CLIA, with ACI, with WEF, and with PATA. There are still some to do. For example, WTA were created recently, and we invited them to our summit, because I believe we need to be inclusive. There is opportunity in this sector for everyone.
Photo: Gloria Guevara Manzo President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council