WTTC CEO highlights Africa’s T&T potential & sustainable growth
President & CEO Julia Simpson, while addressing the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Rwanda, discussed the significance of holding the global event in Africa and emphasized the transformation and economic potential of the continent’s travel and tourism sector.
Simpson highlighted the significance of hosting the first-ever WTTC Global Summit in Africa, specifically in Rwanda, as a remarkable milestone.
She shared her observations of Rwanda’s impressive progress. She noted the transformation of Rwanda’s business environment, which now ranks in the top 30 globally for ease of doing business. It takes just six hours to register a new company.
The CEO highlighted the economic impact of the travel and tourism sector in Rwanda. By the end of 2023, it is expected to contribute to 8.2% of the country’s GDP and employ over 350,000 people.
Simpson also discussed the significant growth in Africa’s tourism sector, which has more than doubled in just two decades. In 2019, it contributed $186 billion to the region’s GDP, accounting for 7% of the entire economy.
The CEO praised Rwanda’s commitment to gender equality, noting that the Rwandan parliament boasts the largest percentage of women in the world, at 61%. She also highlighted the achievements of Yvonne Makolo, CEO of Rwandair, who became the first female chair of IATA.
Simpson shared a heartening story about the remarkable recovery of the mountain gorilla population, emphasizing the role of responsible tourism in this success. She also touched on cross-border collaboration for environmental conservation.
Julia discussed the efforts to decouple the travel and tourism sector’s environmental footprint from its growth. The sector’s emissions grew at a slower rate than its GDP, and some countries managed to reduce emissions despite growing tourism.
She highlighted the significance of ground transport in emissions and called for a transition to electric vehicles. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) was also discussed, with praise for the US and EU’s support for SAF production.
The CEO emphasized that travel and tourism is about peace and serves as an essential tool for building bridges, understanding, and compassion.
Simpson concluded her address by acknowledging Rwanda’s resilience and expressing hope for a successful summit.