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.
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.
After 10 years at the helm, Geoffrey Lipman steps down as President and is replaced by Jean-Claude Baumgarten. 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’.