The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced the departure of president and CEO Gloria Guevara after four years leading the global tourism body.

The former Tourism Secretary of Mexico, Guevara (pictured above, right) joined the WTTC in August 2017 and has led the organisation and its members through a transformational agenda over the past few years, including the sector’s significant impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Airlines Group (IAG) executive Julia Simpson (pictured above, left) has been named as Guevara’s replacement, effective 15 August.

Simpson brings extensive industry experience to the WTTC, having served on the boards of British Airways, Iberia and most recently as chief of staff at IAG. She has also previously worked at senior levels in the UK government, including as an advisor for Britain’s Prime Minister.

Carnival Corporation president and CEO Arnold Donald, who was recently appointed as chair of the WTTC, paid tribute Guevara and welcomed Simpson to her new role.

“I would like to first thank Gloria for her dedication and commitment to WTTC, especially in these difficult times,” he said.

“Her contributions have been immeasurable, from helping to unite the sector as it manages and recovers from the pandemic, to providing a clear voice and direction for the safe restart of international travel.

“I and the entire executive committee are grateful for Gloria’s continued help through this transition and her support to WTTC.

“I am delighted to welcome Julia Simpson, an exceptional leader with experience both in the private sector and in government, to help guide WTTC at this critical juncture of the travel & tourism sector.

“I look forward to working with Julia in my role as chair, to continue building on WTTC’s many successful initiatives.”

Commenting on her departure, Guevara said: “It is with a heavy heart that I leave WTTC. I am very proud to have led this diverse and talented team and to have worked with so many amazing industry leaders, who are WTTC’s members, and built strong relationships with government heads of tourism around the world.

“I leave WTTC after completing my mandate in a stronger position as the voice of the private sector and the leader of the global agenda.

“I know that under Julia’s solid leadership, WTTC will continue to build on this legacy and lead it into its next chapter, championing the entire global travel and tourism sector to its recovery.”

Simpson said: “It will be a great privilege to lead WTTC as it emerges from the worst crisis in our history.

“Travel and tourism plays a critical role to our economies across the globe, accounting for 330 million jobs in 2019. In many communities, it is the backbone of family-run businesses that have been left devastated.

“The travel and 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.”