What travel means to Gloria Guevara Manzo, president and CEO of
the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Interview by Adam Erace
The gift of travel is knowledge. Before the World Travel and Tourism Council, I was president of the Mexico tourism board for three years. That was right after the outbreak of H1N1, the financial and economic crisis in the U.S., and security challenges, when a lot of people stopped traveling. It had a huge impact on travel to Mexico. Part of my job was to try to reset the tone and put things in context, to explain that Mexico was a big country and we could not paint it with just one brush – no more than you can paint the U.S. with just one brush. The more you travel, the more you open your mind and learn.
Professionally speaking, travel can be a force for good. It has provided me with opportunities to meet people that I never would have otherwise. It creates empathy and understanding, which are both always needed in the world. We jump to conclusions too fast without putting ourselves in the shoes of the others.
I’m from Guadalajara, but I grew up all over Mexico. My parents made it a point to travel all over the country. I learned to appreciate different traditions and have empathy. Now that I have children, some of the best memories we have are from when we travel together. It gives them a better appreciation of other people and other nationalities, whether we’re in Dubai or Hong Kong or the U.S., as well as a better appreciation for nature and sustainable tourism. Seeing the migration of the monarch butterflies, for example, or the whales in Baja, connects them with nature and helps them understand how delicate it is.
Monarch butterflies: Getty Images