"Transforming Economies" and "Removing Barriers Towards Global Integration through Travel&Tourism" are two of the main themes of the 9th Global Travel and Tourism Summit, which is being organized under the patronage of His Excellency Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, by the World Travel&Tourism Council (WTTC). The two-day event will take place in Florianópolis, the capital of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, from May 15-16.
As the global business leaders' forum, comprising the presidents and chief executives of the foremost 100 travel and tourism companies around the world, WTTC's main mission is to promote the economic importance of the sector, which generates 9 percent of global GDP and employs as many as 220 million people worldwide.
"This is the first time that the summit has been held in Latin America," Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC's president and CEO told the Brazilian media and industry leaders at a press conference to launch the summit program in São Paulo earlier today. "And we are delighted to bring the summit to Santa Catarina," Baumgarten added, "a state which offers enormous promise in terms of tourism development and opportunities for investors in travel and tourism, whether from Brazil or other countries.
"The summit's rich program, organized under the theme, Real Partnerships: Energizing Economies, and which includes high-level speakers from both the public and private sectors, will offer a unique opportunity to the global travel and tourism industry - not least in Brazil," Baumgarten said, "to create new forms of public-private sector partnership to restore confidence, which in turn will help kick-start travel and tourism demand and stimulate economic growth and employment."
"Other sessions certain to generate huge interest include an international panel discussion on 'Changing Values,'" noted Ufi Ibrahim, chief operating officer of WTTC and author of the summit program. "Panelists in this session will debate the main value drivers of key stakeholders in travel and tourism, and try to determine how these will evolve over the coming years.
"As always for the annual summit," Ms. Ibrahim added, "we have attracted some top-rate speakers - personalities from outside the travel and tourism industry who bring a fresh perspective to the summit discussions and debates. A prime example this year will be the keynote presentation on 'No Time To Think' by the acclaimed book's authors, Charles Feldman and Howard Rosenberg. They will reflect on the media's ability to distort perspectives - to an extent which influences global society, not only consumers but also governments and businesses."
The travel and tourism industry is already struggling to meet the challenges posed by the current economic and financial crisis. "And these have been exacerbated by the recent swine flu outbreak," Baumgarten added.
"So this year's Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Brazil offers a timely opportunity for leaders from all sectors of travel and tourism and related industries to meet together in an ideal setting to discuss the challenges facing the industry and come up with innovative solutions."
The more than 50 speakers and panelists from all four corners of the globe who are participating in the two-day summit include: Paulo Nogueira Batista, Jr., executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean; Firmin Antonio, honorary chairman of Accor Latin America; John Walker, chairman of Oxford Economics; Martin Feldstein, Harvard University; George F. Baker, professor of economics; National Bureau of Economic Research President Emeritus; US Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Hubert Joly, president and CEO of Carlson; Fernando Pinto, CEO of TAP Portugal; Sebastián Escarrer, vice chairman of Sol Meliá; Domenico de Masi, professor at the University La Sapenzia; Jabu Mabuza, group chief executive of Tsogo Sun Holdings (Pty), Ltd.; Sonu Shivdasani, chairman and CEO of Six Senses Resorts&Spas; and Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group.