The World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive Gloria Guevara (pictured right) is to step down after four years leading the global tourism body.
She will be replaced by International Airlines Group (IAG) executive committee member Julia Simpson (pictured below). She will take over as president and chief executive from August 15, 2021.
Guevara, the former tourism secretary of Mexico, has led the WTTC through a period of significant change and its most difficult year in history, as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector.
Simpson has served on the boards of British Airways, Iberia and most recently as chief of staff at the International Airlines Group. She previously worked at a senior level in the UK government, including as advisor to former UK prime minister Tony Blair.
Carnival Corporation president and chief executive Arnold Donald, who was recently appointed chair of WTTC, paid tribute to Guevara for her work, particularly to unite the sector during the pandemic, and welcomed Simpson.
He said: “I would like to first thank Gloria for her dedication and commitment to WTTC, especially in these difficult times. Her contributions have been immeasurable, from helping to unite the sector as it manages and recovers from the pandemic, to providing a clear voice and direction for the safe restart of international travel. And I and the entire executive committee are grateful for Gloria’s continued help through this transition and her support to WTTC.
“I am delighted to welcome Julia Simpson, an exceptional leader with experience both in the private sector and in government, to help guide WTTC at this critical juncture of the travel and tourism sector. I look forward to working with Julia in my role as chair, to continue building on WTTC’s many successful initiatives.”
Guevara said she left the organisation with “a heavy heart”. She said: “I am very proud to have led this diverse and talented team and to have worked with so many amazing industry leaders, who are WTTC’s Members, and built strong relationships with government heads of tourism around the world.
“I leave WTTC after completing my mandate, in a stronger position as the voice of the private sector and the leader of the global agenda. I know that under Julia’s solid leadership, WTTC will continue to build on this legacy and lead it into its next chapter, championing the entire global travel and tourism sector to its recovery.”
Simpson said: “It will be a great privilege to lead WTTC as it emerges from the worst crisis in our history. Travel and tourism plays a critical role to our economies across the globe, accounting for 330m jobs in 2019. In many communities it is the backbone of family run businesses that have been left devastated.
“The travel and tourism sector has shown real leadership in ‘reopening’ the world safely and securely; and I look forward to shaping and driving the sector’s ambitious agenda to achieve long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.”