The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is opening membership to small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) for the first time in its 30-year existence.
Currently, WTTTC members include 184 CEOs, chairs and presidents from the world's leading travel and tourism companies.
The "associate membership" category will give SMEs the opportunity to attend the WTTC's annual, invitation-only Global Summit; membership in a forthcoming online "associate member community"; access to WTTC research and reports; and entry to its regional travel and tourism events.
To qualify, organizations must operate within the travel and tourism sector and generate less than $5 million revenue annually. SME membership costs $4,000 per year; an early-bird, $3,500 fee is being offered to members who sign up before 2020. The WTTC declined to say what the membership rate is for its larger members.
Gloria Guevara, CEO of the WTTC, called SMEs "one of the most important segments in the travel and tourism sector" and "a crucial component of our ecosystem."
"We want to be more inclusive," she added. "We want to share the data and knowledge and opportunities that WTTC offers when we connect the public and private sector."
Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso CEO and member of the WTTC's Executive Committee, said that the smaller members would "amplify the powerful diversity and force for good that travel brings to the world".
Next year's Global Summit, being held in San Juan in April, will be the first that the new SMEs are invited to attend.
The theme of the 2020 conference, "making a lasting difference," will focus on the impact that travel and tourism has made on recovery in the Caribbean, and in the host nation of Puerto Rico in particular, from the devastating hurricanes of 2017.
Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, the island's destination marketing organization, said that holding the summit in Puerto Rico would enable the WTTC to demonstrate that tourism is making a lasting difference.
"Travel and tourism is leading the island forward," Dean said. "The island has faced some substantial challenges, and its economic future will be guided by tourism more than any other industry. Puerto Rico is a perfect laboratory to examine the lasting impact tourism makes, and what better audience to showcase that to?"
The conference will also celebrate WTTC's 30th anniversary and will focus on helping the U.S. increase inbound travel, which has steadily fallen in terms of global market share since 2015.