A group of worldwide industry leaders, led by James Robinson III, the CEO of American Express, realise that too few people, let alone governments, recognise that Travel & Tourism is the largest industry in the world, and the biggest provider of jobs. The group holds an initial meeting in Paris where a message from Henry Kissinger confirms that the travel sector’s size and status is not recognised because it is too fragmented.
Kissinger’s message adds impetus to the group’s objectives and WTTC is founded with James Robinson III as Chairman and Geoffrey Lipman as President.
WTTC’s first AGM takes place in Washington – the Council comprises 32 members who define the group’s objectives in promoting awareness of Travel & Tourism’s economic contribution; expanding markets in harmony with the environment; and reducing barriers to growth.
WTTC has grown to a total of 68 members. Robert H Burns takes over as Chairman and the Council begins focussing on developing its economic research with Wharton Econometric Forecast Associates in order to substantiate WTTC’s message with concrete figures.
The Council expands its activities to include air transport liberalisation, education and training, taxation and sustainable development leading to the creation of the World Travel & Tourism Human Resources centre in Vancouver and the Taxation Policy Centre in the USA.
WTTC’s membership reaches 100 and the Council forecasts that 100 million jobs will be created in Travel & Tourism by 2007. The first WTTC Global Summit takes place in Vilamoura, Portugal, focusing on the theme of employment and leading to the Vilamoura Declaration calling on government decision makers to factor Travel & Tourism into their employment policies.
After 10 years at the helm, Geoffrey Lipman steps down as President and is replaced by Jean-Claude Baumgarten. In addition to global issues, WTTC turns its attention to regional support. The WTTC Latin America programme is launched as the first such initiative. Other regional initiatives follow in Europe, China and India.
WTTC’s Members suffer greatly as a result of the 9/11 attacks, but the Council takes positive steps to regain public confidence in the sector and encourage the world to start travelling again.
WTTC returns to Vilamoura for its Global Summit with the theme ‘Building New Tourism’ following the impact of global events such as the Iraq war, SARS and increased terrorism on the Travel & Tourism sector.
WTTC takes over the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, previously run by British Airways. Held annually these prestigious awards recognise best practice in sustainable tourism within the industry worldwide.
WTTC develops a Crisis Impact Forecasting Model which is used to assess the effects of the London bombings on UK Travel & Tourism.
The global economy spirals into the worst recession since the 1930s – but WTTC research demonstrates the resilience of Travel & Tourism GDP which continues to grow over the next four years despite the downturn.
WTTC produces its report ‘Leading the Challenge on Climate Change’ in collaboration with the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and launched under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales.
David Scowsill is appointed as President & CEO. WTTC strategic priorities are redefined as Freedom to Travel, Policies for Growth and Tourism for Tomorrow.
Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign is launched by WTTC jointly with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) - more than 60 world government leaders have since voiced their support for Travel & Tourism by signing WTTC/UNWTO’s Open Letter.
WTTC undertakes a joint study with UNWTO to determine the benefits of visa improvements in G20 countries. The findings form the basis of discussions at the T20 Ministers Meeting in Mexico leading to an unprecedented Declaration by the G20 Leaders in support of Travel & Tourism. WTTC’s 12th Global Summit takes place in Japan in support of the nation’s recovery after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. The Travel Association Coalition is formed to speak with ‘One Voice’ in order to strengthen the industry’s influence among government policy-makers.
WTTC Membership grows to historic levels including not only CEOs from the entire Travel & Tourism spectrum, but also Industry Partners, such as Google and Coca Cola. Together with Oxford Economics, WTTC produces economic impact studies and forecasts for over 180 countries around the world. President Bill Clinton speaks at the 13th Global Summit in Abu Dhabi saying “Peace works better than conflict and one of the best manifestations of this is in Travel & Tourism”. WTTC’s first Asia Regional Summit takes place in Seoul with the theme ‘Staying Ahead of Tomorrow’.
An outbreak of Ebola ravages West Africa and threatens international travel. WTTC joins the World Health Organization led Travel & Transport Task Force to support the global efforts to contain the spread of the Ebola virus and provide a coordinated international response for the travel, trade, and tourism sector. WTTC Americas Regional Summit held in Peru, and Global Summit held in Hainan Province, China addressed by Wan Yang, Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China. WTTC publishes influential report on Impact of Visa Facilitation in ASEAN countries.
A year of natural and man-made disaster, with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal and terrorist incidents in Paris and around the world. But in Paris also, the world’s nations agreed a global compact to reduce emissions as part of the way to reduce greenhouse gases. WTTC published an agenda for the recently formed Global Travel Association Coalition with a commitment for aligned advocacy and action to harness the full potential of the sector to create jobs, drive inclusive growth, and foster development. HRH Felipe VI, King of Spain, addressed WTTC Members at the 2015 Global Summit in Madrid.
Outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil threatens Olympics. North Korea tests a nuclear bomb. Barack Obama visits Cuba. Britons vote to leave European Union. Turkish President uses Facetime mobile app to overthrow coup. Columbia acts to end civil war. Terrorists launched major attacks in Nice, Belgium, Pakistan, and Orlando. Donald Trump wins the election to become the 45th US President. WTTC campaigns for US-EU visa reciprocity; engages in security issues and advises Borderpol and UK Border Force; publishes “Tourism as a Driver of Peace”; holds its annual Global Summit in Dallas, Texas.
Gloria Guevara-Manzo is appointed as President & CEO. Britain triggers Article 50. Devastating hurricanes sweep through the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. The first total solar eclipse crosses the U.S. since 1918. The #MeToo movement gives a voice to sexual assault and harassment survivors. A troubling trend in terror attacks that started in 2016 continued into 2017 with mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas and other major attacks in Europe. Tourism outpaces the global economy for the sixth year in a row. WTTC sets up task force to help Mexico recover from earthquake, launches a major study on the socioeconomic impact of Travel & Tourism on cities and joins with McKinsey & Company to publish a report on Overcrowding in tourist destinations. The 17th WTTC Global Summit takes place in Bangkok, Thailand.