Who WTTC Are

Who We Are

The World Travel & Tourism Council is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism.

WTTC promotes sustainable growth for the Travel & Tourism sector, working with governments and international institutions to create jobs, drive exports and generate prosperity. Council Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world’s leading private sector Travel & Tourism businesses.

Alongside our Council Members and board of Vice-Chairs, Op-Co and Executive Committee, from our Member organisations, our WTTC directors are responsible for guiding the work of the Council in the fulfilment of its mission. The WTTC Directors, based across the world, have expansive knowledge not only in their fields but also in Travel & Tourism as a sector and work with knowledgeable teams to bring the mission to life.

If you would like one of the WTTC Directors to speak at your event, please fill out our speaker request form.


Virginia Messina

SVP Advocacy & Comms

Virginia Messina

SVP Advocacy & Comms

With over 15 years of experience in the public and private sectors, Virginia has spent the last decade advocating for Travel & Tourism. She joined WTTC in 2013 responsible for driving the strategic plan and served as Executive Director of the Global Travel Association Coalition which aligned key industry organisations (ACI, CLIA, IATA, ICAO, UNWTO and WEF) to speak with ‘One Voice’. 

Prior to joining WTTC, she worked for the Mexican Government, including the Presidential Office under President Felipe Calderon. During her time at the Ministry of Tourism, Virginia was instrumental in the creation of the National Agreement for Tourism which aligned the public and private sectors in Mexico around ten key strategic pillars and resulted in Mexico being one of the most visited countries globally. 

In 2012, under Mexico’s G20 Presidency, she chaired the Tourism Working Group and orchestrated the Tourism Ministers of the G20 countries, which resulted in tourism being recognised as a key pillar for economic growth by the G20 Leaders. As Senior Vice President, Advocacy Virginia leads all of WTTC’s Strategic Initiatives as well as our engagement with governments and other Industry Associations.

Maribel Rodriguez

SVP Membership, Commercial & Events

Maribel Rodriguez

SVP Membership, Commercial & Events

Maribel Rodriguez joined WTTC in 2014. She has built an extensive network within the Travel and Tourism industry public and private sector, accumulating over 20 years of sales, marketing, communication and commercial experience in Europe and Latin America in the airline and hospitality industry. She was an Executive Commercial Director and Board Member for Travelodge Hotels Spain from 2008 to 2014. 

Prior she spent 11 years in the aviation industry, gaining extensive experience in all aspects of commercial aviation managing among others the introduction of low-cost airline operations into the Southern European market for Virgin Express, Go-Fly, EasyJet and Ryanair. She also worked for British Airways for Spain, Portugal and France. Maribel has an Executive MBA at ICADE Business School, a Degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Salamanca and holds a Senior Executive Program for Travel & Tourism at IESE & JSF. She speaks fluent English, Portuguese and a good level of French and Dutch.

Victoria Rothwell

VP Finance & Administration

Victoria Rothwell

VP Finance & Administration

Victoria Rothwell joined WTTC as Finance and Administration Director in August 2020, responsible for Finance, Legal, IT and Administration for the business. Prior to joining WTTC, she spent 22 years leading finance and efficiency within the UK sales office of Norske Skog ASA, a world-leading producer of newsprint and magazine paper with 6 paper mills in Europe and Australia. 

Victoria is a Chartered Global Management Accountant and Business Leader, she has a proven track record in leading Business Unit finance and operations within a European-wide organisational context.

Tiffany Misrahi

VP Policy & Research

Tiffany Misrahi

VP Policy & Research

Tiffany is the Vice-President of Policy at WTTC where she is responsible for shaping the Travel & Tourism sector’s policy agenda. She joined WTTC in September 2018. Prior to joining WTTC, she spent 8 years with the World Economic Forum, where she was the Head of the Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industry. At the Forum, Tiffany was responsible for designing the industry agenda as well as the development and management of strategic relationships and partnerships with industry leaders. 

She was the co-editor of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness report and led the design and implementation of new initiatives including the Future of Security in Travel and Travel, Tourism & Outbreaks. Tiffany started her career at the International Trade Centre where she collaborated on the development and implementation of its Tourism-led Poverty Reduction Programme. 

Tiffany has a BSc in International Business from Warwick University and an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She recently completed an Executive Master in Leadership as part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows Programme.
 

Lola Uña Cárdenas

VP Government Affairs

Lola Uña Cárdenas

VP Government Affairs

Lola Uña Cárdenas joined WTTC as Director and then VP of Government Affairs in April 2019, responsible for heading all government relationships of the organisation. A Spanish national, she is based in Brussels, where she has been working for the past 20 years as an advisor and lobbyist across all key European markets and globally through international consultancies. 

She has provided strategic advice to senior leaders of some of Europe’s and the world’s largest companies to help solve their most complex regulatory challenges and opportunities in the field of travel & tourism, transport and environment policies. She speaks fluent English, French, Italian, Portuguese and good level of Dutch and Finnish.

Helena Bononi

VP North America

Helena Bononi

VP North America

Helena is the Vice-President of North America where she is responsible for directing and overseeing membership activities including the development of programs, initiatives, and policies designed to increase membership in North America. She also leads the Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey Programme under Travel Security and Facilitation. She joined WTTC in March 2018, appointed as Director of Industry Affairs and responsible for the industry relations strategy. 

Prior to joining WTTC, she worked at Sabre Holdings where she held several positions including Regional Director for Brazil and Director Global Operations at the Sabre Corporation Headquarters in Texas, USA, where she directed various activities to support strategic initiatives globally, and managed the implementation of global functions, processes, and internal tools in the new centres of Singapore and Bangalore. 

Helena has built an extensive network within the Travel and Tourism industry public and private sectors, accumulating over 25 years of sales, commercial, operations and global programme management experience, in Latin America, North America, Europe, and Asia, and has comprehensive knowledge of corporate and industry affairs and customer experience. Helena speaks fluent English, Portuguese, and a good level of Spanish and volunteers her time as Executive Mentor for the Menttium Corporation.

Nigel David

VP APAC & Middle East

Nigel David

VP APAC & Middle East

Nigel is the Vice-President Membership and Commercial for ASIA & MEA where he is responsible for directing and overseeing membership activities including the development of programs, initiatives, and policies designed to increase membership. Nigel joined WTTC in April 2012.

Nigel’s career has spanned 35 years in the Travel and Tourism sector during which he has held a wide range of leadership roles for a range of large multi-national organisations including TUI and Thomas Cook, and smaller start-up companies.

His last role prior to joining WTTC was as the CEO of eviivo, a technology start-up focused on the hospitality industry culminating in the sale of eviivo to Investcorp Technology Partners in 2011.
 

Andrew Brown

Regional Director Europe & Oceania

Andrew Brown

Regional Director Europe & Oceania

Hailing from New Zealand, Andrew is currently the Regional Director for Europe and Oceania at the World Travel & Tourism Council. He joined WTTC in 2016 and has carried a variety of roles including sales, member engagement, events, and special projects. Andrew has delivered multiple Global Summits & Regional events and has been instrumental in the addition of over 100 new Members to the organisation.

Immediately prior to WTTC, Andrew was with Colliers International where he managed the national marketing of Industrial Property in New Zealand, before this he spent a year at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Andrew graduated from the University of Auckland with two degrees, the first in Commerce with majors in Commercial Law and Management while the second is in Property.

He travels for adventure and is a regular marathon runner who is aiming to complete the 6 World Marathon Majors. Having visited 59 countries to date, he is looking forward to exploring off the beaten path again as soon as possible.

WTTC Ambassadors

Selected by WTTC's Chairman and CEO, the WTTC Ambassadors work closely with the council to expand its presence, voice, and influence in key markets. Our ambassador programme identifies global travel industry leaders with proven records of success in key markets to work alongside WTTC, bringing strong experience from careers in the tourism industry.


Adolfo Favieres

Ambassador

Adolfo Favieres

Ambassador

Adolfo Favieres was born in Reolid, Albacete, Spain. He initially attended the preparatory school at Colegio Maristas (Alicante) and Colegio del Pilar (Madrid). Graduated as Perito Mercantil (Accountant Degree) at Escuela Superior de Comercio (Alicante). He coursed the studies of Economic Sciences, Degree level, at University UNED, Madrid. Doctor in Aerospace Engineering (Ph.D.) Universidad Politécinca, Madrid. (1967). His professional career began in the aerospace industry, followed by eighteen years in Investment Banking, serving from engineer to Managing Director. During this period he served as Director on more than 25 Boards. He started his trajectory at the Tourism Sector in 1978 as Vice-Chairman of the hotel chain HUSA (Hoteles Unidos, SA), by then the largest one in Spain, with 42 hotels. HUSA, founded in 1930, is the oldest European Chain. 

In 1982 OCCIDENTAL HOTELS was co-founded by Adolfo, becoming a minority shareholder and Executive Vice-Chairman. The Company, founded with very limited resources, attracted the attention of financial investors, and when sold 25 years later, in 2007, was present in 15 countries with 80 hotels. After that outstanding experience, Adolfo served as the first Chairman of INVEROTEL (Asociación de Inversores Hoteleros Españoles) a coalition of 12 Spanish hotel chains that included 420 hotels, 136,000 rooms in 18 countries, where INVEROTEL assumed the defence of the interest of the investors facing the Government and Institutions of these countries. Adolfo has also expanded his activities in Tourism in several other positions: Chairman of ALDESA TURISMO SA, an investment company in México. UNIVERSIDAD ANAHUAC, MÉXICO DF. Guest Profesor in the International Doctorate in Tourism. (Chair of Innovation and Competitiveness of the Tourism Companies). Special Advisor of the Secretary General of the UNWTO. Trustee of University NEBRIJA, Madrid, and President of the Tourism Commission. Member of the Tourism Council of CEOE (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales) Chairman of TATELES Asset Managemnt SL, Hotel Consulting Company. 

He holds a deep knowledge of the touristic and social international scenario after 40 years of experience in the Sector. Fluent in English, French and Italian, Adolfo is a frequent speaker with large experience acquired in Europe, the USA, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. During his time at the university, he developed other lateral activities such as theatre actor, soccer player, military and civil pilot, from what he feels as proud as grateful.

Christopher Rodrigues

Ambassador

Christopher Rodrigues

Ambassador

Christopher Rodrigues became Chairman of the British Council in May 2016, having already become Chairman of the Port of London Authority in January 2016, the Chairman of Openwork in January 2014 and the Chairman of the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association in August 2013. He was Chairman of VisitBritain from 2007 – 2017; Chairman of International Personal Finance and Windsor Leadership from 2007 – 2015; Chairman of The Almeida Theatre from 2008 – 2016, and in July 2016 stepped down as a Council member and Trustee of the National Trust. He was on the Executive Committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council from 2007 – 2016. 

Christopher is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Harvard Business School. He rowed for Cambridge in the 1970 and 1971 Boat Races, is a past-Chairman of Leander Club and is a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta. He was made Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey in 2009 and a Visiting Professor at Cranfield School of Management in 2010. He was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University of Surrey (DUniv) in April 2013. In December 2017 he became a member of the Public Chairs’ Forum Management Committee. 

Christopher was made a Commander of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year Honours list for services to British business interests and charitable works in the UK and USA.

Gerald Lawless

Ambassador

Gerald Lawless

Ambassador

Gerald Lawless started his career with Forte Hotels which culminated in him setting up and growing Forte’s operations in the Middle East. After a 23-year career with Forte Hotels, he joined Jumeirah in 1997 and helped establish it as one of the premier luxury hotel brands in the world. Taking on the challenge of launching Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, after the successful introduction of Jumeirah Beach Hotel to an eager travelling public, he went on to become President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jumeirah Group. 

At the beginning of 2016, having served for 18 years at the helm of the Jumeirah Group, Gerald assumed a new leadership position responsible for tourism and hospitality in Dubai Holding, the Group’s parent company. As a past Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) he serves as one of their International Ambassadors and is an Honourary member of the organisation. He is also an International Ambassador for Galway 2020 as it takes its place as European Capital of Culture 2020. As of September 2017, Gerald has now retired and continues to reside in Dubai. 

Gerald is a graduate of Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management by the Johnson & Wales University, State of Rhode Island, USA; an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the National University of Ireland, Galway; and an Honorary Doctorate by the Middlesex University Dubai. He is a fellow member of the Institute of Hospitality; and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. He is a recipient of the 2017 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten

Ambassador

Kathleen Matthews

Ambassador

Kathleen Matthews

Ambassador

Kathleen Matthews is an award-winning American television journalist, public affairs advocate, and former communications executive at the world’s largest hotel company. Currently, she is chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and a member of the Democratic National Committee. For nearly a decade, she was the chief communications and public affairs officer for Marriott International, where she was responsible for the company’s global brand public relations, corporate communications, government affairs, social responsibility, and company culture. 

As a global advocate for jobs and travel, Matthews was vice-chair of the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board during the Obama Administration and chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for the travel industry. Committed to diversity and the environment, she co-chaired Marriott's Global Green Council and served on the company's Global Diversity and Inclusion Council. 

Prior to her career at Marriott, she was an award-winning news anchor and reporter at the ABC-TV affiliate in Washington, DC for 25 years, and hosted the nationally syndicated “Working Woman” television show. Matthews is a 1975 graduate of Stanford University and a 2004 Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. She and her husband Chris Matthews have three grown children.

Luiz Ambar

Ambassador

Luiz Ambar

Ambassador

Luiz has worked in the travel industry for more than 40 years, as the owner of Bel Air Viagens, the largest travel agency in Brazil, and acquired by American Express in the late 1990s, followed by a short executive run at Amex and a long 20-year career as Vice President of Latin America for Sabre. At Sabre Luiz was responsible for the agency business across 7 different countries. 

More recently Luiz is an investor and collaborates with a couple of technology companies. BemAgro is a leading provider of AI and the processing of satellite and drone images for the agriculture industry, and Bembras, a provider of technology in the private, homeland and public safety markets. Luiz is actively involved as a Board of Directors member in a couple of companies, as well as a local not for profit organization (NPO). 

Luiz Ambar has a bachelor’s degree in Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and an MBA from PUC-RJ, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Martin Cowley

Ambassador

Martin Cowley

Ambassador

Martin Cowley, Chairman, eRoam Pty Ltd and The Lido Group. Sydney, Australia. Martin Cowley has 3 decades of experience in executive roles in Aviation, Travel and Technology. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. He spent 20 years with the Swire Group and Cathay Pacific Airways in senior commercial roles, leading teams in 9 countries around the world and was a member of the founding team at the OneWorld alliance. He subsequently spent 10 years with Sabre Holdings as CEO, Sabre Pacific in Australia and New Zealand then as Senior Vice President, EMEA, Sabre Travel Network, based in London. 

Since 2011 he has built a successful portfolio of board and advisory board roles with a number of multinational companies in the travel and technology sectors. He is currently based in Sydney.

Martin J Craigs

Ambassador

Martin J Craigs

Ambassador

Martin started his career with Short Brothers & Harland in Belfast. He spent the majority of his career based overseas, selling airliners of every shape and size for Shorts, Saab and BAe / Airbus to airlines in Europe, the USA, Latin America and the Asia Pacific. Based predominantly in Hong Kong for 25 years, Martin became heavily involved in advocacy for the aerospace sector and its multiple stakeholders via his founding role and Presidency 1999-2011 of the Aerospace Forum Asia (AFA). He was consequently recruited as CEO of the venerable Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bangkok between 2011 - 2014. Martin was a Founding Member in 2012 of the Global Travel & Tourism Council with the leaders of WTTC, UNWTO, IATA, ICAO and WEF. 

On behalf of members, he advocated vociferously for restraint on self-harming travel taxes, such as the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. He also pushed hard for less silo thinking and more appreciation of the interdependence of the complete visitor economy and its job-creating spark. He hosted aligned advocacy events in the House of Commons and led PATA missions to APEC and G20 Summits, and appeared regularly as a spokesperson on CNN, BBC World, CNBC and many other media outlets. Now based at his family home, amongst the undulating drumlins of County Down, Northern Ireland, Martin has in recent years worked as a mentor and coach, also with his two sons, on local visitor economy businesses, whilst maintaining overseas links through philanthropy, politics and golf. 

He is a proud alumnus of a varied set of educational institutions, including Millfield School, University of Ulster, The Open University, INSEAD, Columbia NYC and Cambridge University. Today Martin is a trustee of the Queen's University, Belfast, ”Literific” debating society, founded in 1850: the Sir Hans Sloane STEM learning centre in Killyleagh and the Columbanus Project (a European-wide peace, reconciliation and sustainable tourism initiative).

Michael Frenzel

Ambassador

Michael Frenzel

Ambassador

Dr Michael Frenzel serves as president of BTW since November 2012, the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry. He was the Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) until March 2016. Since September 2012 he is also Honorary Chairman of the Global Tourism Economy Forum, Macau. Currently, Dr Frenzel serves as a member of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, an international provider of mobility and logistic services as well as Director of Amex GBT, the world-leading business travel company. Furthermore, he is the Special Ambassador of Tourism for UNWTO. 

Most recently, Dr Frenzel held the role of Chairman of the Board of TUI Travel PLC and CEO of TUI AG. Under his leadership from 1994 to 2013, the multi-business conglomerate Preussag AG was repositioned into TUI AG, Europe’s leading tourism group. Early in his career, Dr Frenzel held various managerial positions at the Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB), Düsseldorf, including managing the complete industrial and financial portfolio of the bank. 

He began his career in 1981 at WestLB. Previously, Dr Frenzel served as a member of the Supervisory Boards for AWD Holding AG (one of the leading financial service providers in Europe), Volkswagen AG, E.ON Energie AG (one of the world‘s biggest private electricity and gas companies), Norddeutsche Landesbank (a universal bank in North Germany), Continental AG (one of the top five automotive suppliers in the world and the second-largest in Europe), ING Bank Deutschland AG, and Deutsche Hypo Vereinsbank (part UniCredit Bank AG). Dr Frenzel earned his doctorate (Dr. jur.) from Ruhr University in Bochum.

Michel Taride

Ambassador

Michel Taride

Ambassador

Michel is the former Group President of Hertz International, the leading global car rental brand, where he was responsible for all of its wholly-owned and franchise operations in 150 countries across all continents, outside North America. Over his 38 year career in the constantly transforming car rental business, Michel has progressed through the organization, holding numerous leadership positions in the operational, commercial, country and divisional management. 

Most recently, Michel has been championing the « smart mobility » strategies for Hertz, working closely with start-ups and incubators. Since he moved on from Hertz in April 2019, Michel is an Advisor and a Consultant focusing on Travel, Transportation and Smart Mobility. He is the Chair of the Advisory Board for the GTTP (Global Travel and Tourism Partnership), a non for profit organization that supports education programs enabling each year 700,000 students from 15 countries to build careers in Travel and Tourism. He is also an Ambassador for the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council), and a Foreign Trade Advisor to the French Embassy in London. 

Michel developed an early passion for travel, world cultures, and entrepreneurship, having lived in Morocco, France, Italy, and currently in London with his family. He took a gap year at age 26, to discover the world, and is an accomplished musician who loves travelling, sailing and mountaineering.

Peter Greenberg

Ambassador

Peter Greenberg

Ambassador

A multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is America’s most recognized, honoured and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the travel industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the Travel Editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning. And his national CBS EYE ON TRAVEL radio show is broadcast from a different location around the world each week. The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Peter Greenberg hosts the public television show The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg. The series offers 40+ half-hour episodes that seek to empower audiences with travel news, must-have information, insider tips known only to a select few, and hidden gem destinations not found in traditional guidebooks or brochures. 

Travel Weekly named Peter Greenberg one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Sir Richard Branson. He was inducted into the U.S. Travel Association’s Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honours, Peter Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the NBC News Dateline team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.” Peter Greenberg began his career in journalism as a West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

He won a national Emmy Award for Best Investigative Reporting for the ABC 20/20 special on the final orphan flight out of Vietnam, “What Happened to the Children?” He also is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Aviation Space Writers Association of America. And when he is not reporting all over the world, Greenberg is an active volunteer fireman in New York.

Taleb Rifai

Ambassador

Taleb Rifai

Ambassador

Taleb Rifai was the Secretary-General of the United Nations' World Tourism Organization, based in Madrid, Spain, until the 31st of December 2017, having held the post since being unanimously elected in 2010. The first Jordanian to hold a UN agency Secretary General position. Prior to assuming his post at the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai was the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for three consecutive years. 

In 2001, he served as the Minister of Tourism and Antiquity, as Minister of Tourism, he was the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Amman School for Tourism and Hospitality and was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of UNWTO in 2001. From 1999 to 2003, he served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan. First, he was appointed Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, in charge of Jordan’s Development Agenda and bilateral and multilateral relationships with donors and agencies. He was subsequently appointed Minister of Information, the spokesman of the Government of Jordan, as well as being in charge of communications and public media. In the three years preceding his service in the Jordanian Cabinet, he was appointed the CEO of Jordan’s Cement Company, one of the country’s largest public shareholding companies. 

From 1993 to 1995, Rifai headed Jordan's first Economic Mission to Washington DC, promoting trade, investments, and economic relations between Jordan and the United States. Rifai was also actively involved in policymaking and developing investment strategies as Director General of the Investment Promotion Corporation (IPC) in Jordan (1995–1997).

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