Written by Nkeletsang Morapedi
Kigali, Rwanda – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) made history yesterday as it inaugurated its 23rd Global Summit in Kigali. This prestigious event marks the first time it has graced the African continent, gathering delegates from across the globe for an extraordinary occasion that promises groundbreaking discussions and collaborations in the heart of Africa.
The opening ceremony was a grand affair, attended by luminaries in the world of travel and tourism. Notable guests included Mr. Arnold Donald, WTTC Chair; Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO; Burundi vice president Prosper Bazombanza and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
This landmark event also welcomed the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, adding to the array of global leaders who graced the occasion. The collective influence of these leaders sets the tone for an exceptional summit, promising in-depth discussions and groundbreaking initiatives.
The WTTC Global Summit serves as a global platform for industry leaders to share insights and devise strategies to advance the travel and tourism sector. This edition extends its focus to the African continent, recognizing its growing significance in the global travel landscape.
Mr. Arnold Donald, in his remarks, emphasized the significant impact of travel and tourism on economic growth and global unity. He highlighted the decision to host the summit in Rwanda, driven by Africa’s transformational story and long-overdue recognition of the continent’s potential.
The theme of the summit, “Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future,” underscores the pivotal role of the travel and tourism sector, not only in generating revenue but also in preserving the planet and enhancing the well-being of global communities.
As the summit unfolds, discussions will span a wide range of critical topics, including climate action, the impact of technology, and the role of youth and gender equality in the sector. With Africa’s dedication to the resurgence of the travel and tourism industry and the continent positioning itself as a budding tourism hotspot, this historic WTTC Global Summit promises to be a pivotal moment for the industry, setting the stage for transformative initiatives that will bolster the sector’s recovery and contribute to global progress and sustainability.
Addressing the delegates, Francis Gatare, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, emphasized the importance of investment in the tourism sector for economic growth and global unity. He encouraged other African countries to join WTTC to maximize the inclusive and sustainable growth of the travel and tourism sector.
This historic global summit he noted promises to be a decisive moment for the travel and tourism industry, focusing on advancing the sector’s recovery and enhancing global progress and sustainability.
He expressed gratitude to WTTC for deciding to take the summit to Rwanda, and by extension to Africa.
In her remarks, WTTC president Julia Simpson revealed that the global tourism sector is making a robust comeback. The latest data from WTTC and its partner Oxford Economics she says shows that global travel is surging back, with all regions recovering faster than previously expected, with Asia-Pacific leading the way.
Speaking at the opening of the 23rd Global Summit, Simpson said: “Our latest data highlights our sector’s enduring appeal and resilience and is recovering faster than anticipated.
This trend she noted underlines the longstanding consumer appetite for travel. She added that despite China’s full recovery potential yet to be realised, the global sector’s performance is exceeding expectations.