Approximately 190 travel leaders from across the globe gathered in the heart of Lower Manhattan at Convene at One Liberty Plaza on June 11 for the World Travel & Tourism Council’s inaugural North America Leaders’ Forum.

Under the theme, “Uniting for Impact,” regional travel CEOs, government agencies, industry associations, experts, and media delved into topics including infrastructure gaps, cruise development, challenges in aviation, diversity and inclusion, and the building of secondary destinations. The event was hosted and developed in partnership with NYC & Company.

“We chose New York City as the host for this forum because it is truly a role model in how it includes communities and ensures both that New Yorkers benefit from tourism and that travelers feel welcomed in the city,” says Gloria Guevara, president & CEO, WTTC. 

World Travel and Tourism Council at Convene
Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council addresses the audience. © Julienne Schaer

Fred Dixon, CEO of New York’s official marketing arm, NYC & Company, addressed the group and shared some of the marketing campaigns that have helped the city extend its reach. For example, the ‘True York City’ campaign was showcased for its effectiveness at enticing visitors to extend their stays and explore more than just midtown Manhattan but all five boroughs.

The “See Your City” campaign was also highlighted as it encourages New Yorkers across the five boroughs to share experiences in their local neighborhoods on social media to attract visitors to explore other districts. New York City also entices visitors to discover the city in the quieter winter season with a series of “Winter Outing” promotions including two-for-one admission to top attractions and Broadway shows.

These destination campaigns have helped contribute to New York City’s tourism success. “This is an incredibly popular destination among travelers and continues to grow, with more than 147 million visitors expected next year,” adds Guevara.

World Travel and Tourism Council at Convene
Jeffrey Rutledge, Chief Executive Officer, AIG Travel answers questions during a panel.
© Julienne Schaer

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas like New York City and this proportion is expected to rise to 68 percent by 2050, with China, India, and Nigeria expected to account for 35 percent of projected growth, according to “Global Cities’ Readiness for Tourism Growth,” a report released at the Forum that was conducted with the help of JLL Hotels & Hospitality. Forecasts show that urbanization combined with population growth, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050.

Of the 1.4 billion international visitors crossing borders last year for tourism purposes, 45 percent of them are traveling to visit cities. In fact, international arrivals to the 300 largest city travel destinations accounted for half a billion trips last year, according to the WTTC.

Photos courtesy of World Tourism and Travel Council and Julienne Schaer, CC BY 2.0