10 Things We Learned at WTTC’s Global Summit 2019 in Seville

I’d like to give credit to WTTC’s Global Summit for this:

What a day it was! WTTC’s Global Summit 2019 in Seville featured a packed schedule with opinion leaders from industry and government. Topics included the Future is Digital, the Seamless Traveller Journey, Destination Stewardship and the Consumers of Tomorrow. There were also insights from a former US President (who got a standing ovation!).


If you missed it, don’t worry. Here are 10 key things we learnt today:

  1. Travel keeps on growing. Travel & Tourism GDP outpaced the global economy for the eighth successive year last year. It’s forecast to create 100 million new jobs over the next decade.
  2. Spanish tourism has much more to offer than just its spectacular beaches. The rural tourism sector is a particular focus for growth, providing employment opportunities where they are most needed.
  3. 5G is a quantum leap forward. It will be here in three to five years – 100 times faster and 1000 times more capable. It will provoke a massive explosion of data creation which will be a huge enabler of cognitive intelligence.
  4. Identity is an inclusion issue. Not being able to prove who you are will be an increasing issue for the one billion people around the world who currently have no official identity.
  5. It’s travellers who are pushing the sustainability agenda now. They are beginning to demand these changes so we have to act faster. They want to do more than just visit a destination – they want to enrich it.
  6. Facial recognition works exceptionally well. Since 2017 the US Customs and Border Protection Agency has processed 15 million passengers using facial recognition. The current match rate is 98% and it typically takes just one second.
  7. Biometrics gives people longer cruise breaks. By using facial recognition for passengers boarding and disembarking, Royal Caribbean can clear a ship far more quickly. So much so, that people get an extra day of vacation.
  8. Blockchain is already having an impact. Baggage tracking and loyalty programmes are two areas where it’s being trialed right now.
  9. We’ve hardly got started with China. There are 417 million Chinese Millennials – more than all the people in the US and Canada combined. And at the moment only 9% of Chinese people have passports.
  10. We ignore the impact of older travellers at our peril. We might obsess about chasing Millennials, but they have little money and hardly any time. Their parents and grandparents have more resources than any other age group, accounting for 53% of airfare and 59% of lodging spend.

Diane Conley


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