LONDON, UK – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) acknowledges the influential contributions of American statesman Henry Kissinger in its founding. Kissinger’s encouragement and support were instrumental in giving the Travel & Tourism sector a unified voice on the global stage.
In the late 1980s, sector leaders, including James Robinson III of American Express, recognised the lack of awareness about Travel & Tourism’s economic impact within the sector and among governments. Despite being a major job provider, the sector was often seen as non-essential, with no collective data or unified representation.
This led to a key gathering in Paris in 1989, where sector leaders from various regions convened. A significant moment of this meeting was Henry Kissinger’s address, emphasising the sector’s unrecognised potential due to its fragmentation. This insight propelled the formation of the WTTC in 1990, chaired by James Robinson III and Geoffrey Lipman as President.
The inaugural annual general meeting in Washington in 1991, following the Gulf War, solidified the WTTC’s objectives and addressed critical issues. The Council, initially comprising 32 members, focused on highlighting the economic importance of Travel & Tourism and garnering government and policymaker attention.
Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC, remarked: “Henry Kissinger’s vital role in WTTC’s inception cannot be overstated. He rallied sector leaders to leverage their influence, significantly shaping modern travel. Kissinger recognised travel’s ‘soft power’ in uniting cultures and its substantial economic impact – accounting for one in ten jobs worldwide and a significant portion of the global economy before the pandemic.”