David Scowsill was the CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for some years. He recently resigned, but attended the ongoing UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China.
He was honored by UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai on Wednesday and had this to say:
“I am deeply honored to accept this accolade on behalf of the team and the members of the World Travel & Tourism Council, delivered here in Chengdu in front of some many ministerial friends.
The partnership between UNWTO and WTTC has been a truly global public/private partnership, where together we have visited 91 heads of state as part of the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign. The Secretary General and I have always put our arms around the Tourism Ministers, and held very direct conversations with their Presidents and Prime Ministers about the key issues for the industry – visas, taxation, infrastructure, sustainable development and employment. For a diplomatic man, Taleb Rifai talks very directly just like a private sector person to educate these heads of state about the importance of travel and tourism.
UNWTO and WTTC did not always work closely together. Our predecessors sometimes fought publicly about differences on the approach to research. Taleb and I used each other’s numbers, because we understood the power of speaking with One Voice and one set of data. Our teams worked together. As my half-brother, we could read each other’s minds. He would start a sentence and I would finish it. It has been an extraordinary relationship.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend my successor Gloria Guevara Manzo to all the Ministers at the General Assembly. Apart from being a friend, she has the perfect public/private background to take WTTC forward. She has worked in the private sector with Sabre, before becoming Minister of Tourism in Mexico under President Calderon. An academic background with Harvard and various private board appointments have prepared her well to continue the relationship with UNWTO, working with the new Secretary General from 2018 onwards. Gloria this award presented today is for your team at WTTC, who have worked so hard to elevate the profile of WTTC.
My plans are to go ‘back to the future’ into the world of technology, from whence I came. As Chief Executive now of EON Reality Inc., the leading global business for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality with offices all over the world, I am already talking with a number of ministers at this General Assembly about investing in their countries to create a training academy and software development business. Over the next 10 years, millions of jobs will disappear in this industry due to automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. We want to drive employment in this next wave of technology, to create jobs to combat this trend. The latest iPhone launched yesterday in the US will have an augmented virtual reality app for the first time, which will change the world for consumers and developers alike. If Apple take this seriously, we need to do the same. The opportunities with VR and AR for travel and tourism in your countries are limitless.
I want to commend the Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, for his extraordinary leadership and his tireless work to serve all his members. He has flown across the world constantly, with no regard for his health nor the wear and tear on his body. Behind every great man lies a great woman, and I would like to acknowledge the dedication of his wife Nisrine, who has been such a support to the UNWTO organization. Taleb Rifai has taken the World Tourism Organization to a new level within the UN system, and driven the importance of travel & tourism dramatically higher on the world agenda. He leads a magnificent team of people at the UNWTO, who have contributed to the dramatic success of his two terms of office. It has been an honour to work with you and to learn from you. When you leave your office, there is no doubt that you will have made the world a better place.”
David Scowsill is currently the CEO of EON Reality.