The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, above, will be cloc-a-bloc in a month’s time. It will be hosting the 15th meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) nations, 21–22 November, 2020. Under GM Mohammed Marghalani, the team will undoubtedly be practising every service minutiae again and again, to make sure those staying in the 497 bedrooms – which include no less than 48 Royal Suites – experience nothing but perfection. When Girlahead was last in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia it was compulsory for women to wear abbayas and cover all hair but now, our good friend Edie Rodriguez, says that is not necessary and she merely dresses discreetly, out of respect for local custom. Edie Rodriguez is, by the way, the guest on next week’s WORLD TRAVEL ESSENTIAL podcast, going live Tuesday 20 October.
This particular meeting of the G20 includes a dedicated tourism segment. Ahead of this, the World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the airlines’ body, the Montreal-based International Air Transport Association, IATA, to restart global tourism. Based in Madrid, UNWTO membership includes 158 countries, six territories and over 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. Its Secretary General is a football-mad Georgian, Zurab Pololikashvili, who was CEO of FC Dinamo Tbilisi, his country’s top professional team, for a decade from 2001. The MOU is to work on enhancing consumer confidence in travel and placing sustainability at the centre of recovery and future growth.
Girlahead strongly believes the entire travel, tourism and hospitality sectors also need individual pundits. Both names that instantly spring to mind are based in the USA, namely, in alphabetical order, Peter Bates, of Strategic Vision, and Clayton Reid, MMGY’s CEO. As Reid says, ‘Consumers are looking for information on COVID-19 from trusted authorities, and travel trade media are currently leading the pack – even more so than government websites, the CDC or DMOs’. A video below, from WTTC, correctly points out that travel is WORLD changing, but consumer-facing videos are not enough. We need more, right now.