London, 30 November 2020 – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Spanish Government organized a hybrid conference with business representatives from both the public and private sectors, representing 95 countries and more than 100 Travel & Tourism firms, with the goal of developing steps and agreements to revive international travel.

The event was arranged as a part of WTTC’s call for the leaders of G7+Spain, South Korea and Australia to find an agreement at the highest level to save the sector and the millions of jobs that rely on it.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, affirmed his commitment to the industry and confirmed Spain’s leadership by hosting a big conference to address the key steps needed to revive international travel and tourism.

The conference was a follow-up to last month’s first-ever public-private tourism meeting of the G20, at which about 45 CEOs and WTTC members were invited for the first time at the invitation of the host nation, Saudi Arabia.

As a result of the talks, the ‘La Palma Agreement was signed by both main players.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ incorporates a variety of key guidelines, including the implementation of international protocols for COVID-19 testing prior to departure and approval of findings upon arrival at destination. This research regime has proved to be effective in a variety of countries such as Spain and the Canary Islands.

Establishing health protection measures such as this would allow shorter quarantine times while returning to the country of origin, or could contribute to the full removal of quarantine.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ also proposes to create international arrangements for the introduction of international travel corridors to promote the return of leisure and business travel between countries or cities with related epidemiological circumstances.

Travel & Tourism firms were also asked to suggest further steps to change and promote travel in the light of the pandemic. These options included providing flexible bookings, payment conditions or adjustments due to positive COVID-19, or offering inexpensive or higher-priced items to promote domestic and foreign travel.

The ‘La Palma Declaration’ encourages all parties to adjust their business models to the current global situation and to work together to create new goods that fuel domestic and international travel and tourism, as well as to introduce training programmes to strengthen and prepare tourism staff and small and medium-sized businesses, providing them with the digital skills required to adapt to the new standard.’

Finally, a more equitable and resilient sector can be encouraged by improving sustainable tourism activities.

The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, opened the conference and said that the outcome of the meeting would help millions of families and businesses around the world.

“The priority is to make it possible to restart international travel, and to do so, we must use new tools available, such as more accessible and reliable diagnostic tests so that international travel ensures safety”.

During his speech, he made it clear that we must turn the crisis into an opportunity to modernize the international tourism industry and make it more inclusive, affordable and sustainable, and to accelerate the distribution of capital.

In conclusion, he said that the world without COVID-19 is moving closer, but when this future arrives, we have a responsibility to mitigate the impact of this crisis on the travel and tourism industry.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “WTTC is delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with closely with the government of Spain in organising this vital conference, as the biggest challenge the industry faces is international coordination”.

“I would like to recognise and congratulate Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, as well as Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto, for their leadership and commitment to public-private collaboration. This is a historic meeting, and will be fundamental to restarting international travel through close collaboration that will result in the implementation of key measures that will be necessary to recover millions of jobs.”

It also emphasized that the international rapid test protocol at departure is critical for the industry, and hence the La Palma Declaration will help the adoption of this and all of the recommendations put forth by WTTC at the G20 meeting last month.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, gave the closing speech, stressing “it is essential to have a coordinated international response that allows international travel to be restarted in a safe and viable manner, as this will allow the travel and tourism sector to recover more quickly.”

During her address, Maroto stressed that the La Palma conference is of extraordinary significance since it is the first time that the public and private sectors have dedicated themselves to working together to revive global tourism. Maroto also said that Spain has pioneered the acceptance of air corridors to promote international travel and has defined the requirement of pre-travel diagnostic testing as an obligation.

Finally, the Minister emphasized that the tourism sector is a priority for the Government and that the required money will be dedicated to its transformation and the necessary impetus.
Finally, the Minister emphasized that the tourism sector is a priority for the Government and that the required money will be dedicated to its transformation and the necessary impetus.

“We want Spain to remain the most competitive country in the world in terms of tourism and for this, we will mobilise more than €3.4 billion over the next three years in transformative projects, that make tourism a more sustainable, digital, accessible and inclusive sector,” she said.

CEO’s from some of the world’s biggest Travel & Tourism companies and WTTC Members taking part included: President and CEO Iberia, Javier Sánchez-Prieto; CEO Radisson Hotel Group, Federico J Gonzalez Tejera, CEO TUI, Friedrich Joussen; Founder and Managing Partner Certares, Greg O’Hara; Senior Vice-President Expedia Group, Jean-Philippe Monod.

Ministers taking part in this historic conference included: Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; President of the Canary Islands, Mr Ángel Víctor Torres; Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism; Secretary of State for Tourism for Portugal, Rita Marques; Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage of the UK, Nigel Huddleston; Minister of Tourism and Sports of Argentina, Matías Lammens; Cabinet Secretary for Tourism of Kenya, Najib Balala; Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ahmed Agil AlKhateeb; Regional Minister for Tourism, Industry and Trade of the Autonomous Region of Canary Islands.

Director-General and CEO IATA, Alexandre de Juniac IATA, and Secretary-General UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, also participated in this important conference.

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About WTTC

Our mission is to maximise the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of the Travel & Tourism sector by partnering with governments, destinations, communities and other stakeholders to drive economic development, create jobs, reduce poverty, security and understanding in our world.

Since the initial discussions between industry CEOs in the late 1980s about establishing a forum for business leaders in Travel & Tourism to the way it is today, WTTC has had many achievements and its role & activities grown significantly. But its core mission remains the same – to raise awareness of the full economic and social impact and potential of Travel & Tourism.

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