Carnival CEO says Covid summit will go beyond travel and tourism

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Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corp. and an executive director of the World Travel and Tourism Council, at a previous WTTC event.
Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corp. and an executive director of the World Travel and Tourism Council, at a previous WTTC event.

When Carnival Corp. chief Arnold Donald reached out to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) about cohosting a summit on Covid-19, his idea was not to focus on cruise, or even on travel.

"It's actually societal focused, because this [crisis] is not just about travel and tourism," Donald said. "It's about: How do we in society deal with Covid-19, given the best knowledge and information available?"

The Covid Science Summit, being held on July 28, will share the latest scientific knowledge and evidence-based best practices related to prevention, detection, treatment and mitigation of Covid-19.

Donald said the logic behind the event's focus is clear.

"Once the world is able, by the world's own standards, to comfortably social gather, then you have a basis for travel and tourism," Donald said. "It's about how we live with this virus, and under what circumstances we live with it, and what is the science behind it, and what can we all do to mitigate the spread. That is the foundation that has to exist for people to feel comfortable to even think about traveling or socially gathering."

The summit is meant to bring together the best science and knowledge around Covid-19 and package it into a 3-hour program. It will feature a series of panels, each focusing on an area of science surrounding Covid-19 and will include best practices from different industries and global regions on how to control and limit the spread of the disease.

"What are the myths? What are the controversial things that are still unresolved? What are the known things?" Donald said of some of the topics that may be covered. "And given that backdrop, in what context can people begin live comfortably with Covid-19 with a reasonable level of confidence? And if not, what will it take for them to feel that way?"

People can register for the free event here. Donald said that the idea was to always make the summit free and open to everyone.

"We all share what we hear and what we learn and work on, and ultimately we'll all be sharing our various perspectives of how the experts have informed our protocol development," he said.

And while many cruise industry stakeholders want to know what those protocols will be and how they will impact the cruise experience, Donald said although the summit is meant to contribute to the knowledge needed to design those changes, it is not intended to lead to any decisions.

Donald is a member of the WTTC Executive Committee and its vice chair for North America.

WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara said that the organization hoped the event "can contribute to the urgent debate to find practical ways forward about how we live in the 'new normal' of a world with Covid-19 and offer adaptable science-based solutions.

"It is crucial we have a clearer understanding about how we can better manage this international crisis," she said, adding that "the world is crying out for leadership to win the battle against Covid-19," something she thinks can be accomplished with the kind of public-private partnerships WTTC has long fostered.

"Working together with Carnival, WTTC aims to ensure we share insights and best practice with governments, WTTC members, destination partners and trade and private businesses," she said. "A safe return to business can only happen if businesses and governments work together, hand in hand. And that can only come about if we can better understand the impact of coronavirus, which will help us determine how to live with the virus and put in place safe and practical evidence-based practices for mitigating its impact."

The WTTC worked with its contacts at organizations, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to find medical experts around Covid-19. The list of participants can be found here.

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