June 8, 2022
Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Organization of American States
Tourism plays a significant role in a country’s economic health by generating revenue and creating jobs. At the IV CEO Summit of the Americas, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State, speakers from the private and public sectors shared insights on economic growth in the Western Hemisphere, particularly through the tourism industry.
One of the Day 1 panels on tourism featured Catherine Powell, Global Head of Hosting at Airbnb; Andrew Nocella, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of United Airlines; Martin Eurnekian, CEO of Corporación América Airports. Kim Osborne, Executive Secretary for Integral Development for the Organization of American States, moderated this panel discussion on how businesses can create sustainable economic recovery through tourism.
Government-Private Sector Collaboration Is Necessary for the Future
The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. With travel restrictions in place, guests were unable to use airports or book accommodations. The three panelists described their experiences with the pandemic and are since on the road to economic recovery but agreed that collaboration with the government and private sector is necessary for the future.
Powell said that Airbnb has already taken direct steps to address this.
“One thing that we’ve done is partner [with governments] to help the travel industry understand the new trends that are emerging,” she said.
One of the trends Powell identified is longer stays, especially for digital nomads who take on remote work. Airbnb is partnering with the government to help create remote-working friendly policies to attract these guests to stay — and work — at Airbnbs.
How to Grow the Travel Industry: DEI Initiatives, MSME Support, and Sustainability
There have been other initiatives growing to revitalize the travel industry, including the support of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) progress, sustainability in travel, and buying from micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Nocella noted that United had taken strides toward DEI through its Aviate Academy. “We opened the Aviate Academy where our goal is to train 500 new pilots per year, at least half of them being diverse,” he said. “Those types of programs have an impact and create great careers for folks that didn’t think they were eligible to be an airline pilot.”
Eurnekian believes sustainability is the only way forward for the industry.
“We are all working toward reaching that ambition, that goal, of net-zero,” he said.
To support MSMEs, Powell describes a “target and send” approach through Airbnb’s new “Categories” feature.
“These categories are a way that we can introduce our guests to the incredible listings that we have on the platform, to new destinations that they never knew existed,” she said. “It’s a way that we can redistribute demand by inspiring guests to find listings.”
Tourism Leaders’ Outlooks for the Future of the Travel Industry
The overall vision for the tourism sector seems to be bright, with travel on the rise. The three panelists shared their best pieces of advice for those in the industry.
“I would say embrace the new travel trends,” Powell said. “I think the changing behavior of our guests is here to stay.”
“The world is a big place,” Nocella added. “There’s so much to see; there’s so much to do, and United can take you just about anywhere. So get out there and see the world and connect.”
“Let’s learn from what happened in the pandemic,” Eurnekian said. “And let’s try to work together towards common goals in the industry and standards that work for everybody’s development.”
From the Series