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On the heels of wrapping up its most challenging year yet as the world’s leading organization for tourism’s private sector — counting over 200 executives and leaders across diverse sectors as members — the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is readying to welcome new leadership.

Julia Simpson, executive committee member of the International Airlines Group, will take over the organization as its new CEO on August 15. Simpson joins at a pivotal time for the travel industry when tourism will have restarted by this summer but with ongoing uncertainty in many parts of the world where restrictions continue as the pandemic drags on and vaccines continue to lag.

“The Travel & 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,” Simpson said.

Simpson is expected to bring significant public and private sector experience, having previously served on the board of directors for British Airways and Iberia, and as advisor to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In addition to Simpson’s appointment, Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, will begin his term as chair of WTTC.

Outgoing WTTC leader Gloria Guevara is credited for having reinforced the importance of the travel industry’s economic power over the past year and establishing an industry-recognized “Safe Travels” stamp, in spite of a perceived inability to transition from a volume-based metric to measure travel’s success which had dominated pre-Covid and caused a negative impact on destinations.

The challenge to transition into a more sustainable and responsible private sector travel industry is now in the hands of Simpson, as the WTTC heads into a new era of travel fraught with a fragmented recovery.

Photo Credit: Leaders on stage at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in April 2021. Outgoing CEO Gloria Guevara stands at the front of the group. Julia Simpson was named the new CEO on May 12. World Travel & Tourism Council / Flickr