Former US President Barack Obama made an appearance at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Seville, Spain, where he shared his thoughts on travel with Hilton CEO, Christopher Nassetta.
During the on-stage chat, Obama praised travel’s ability to remind people of the value of diversity amid growing xenophobia and nationalism.
“I believe in bringing people together instead of separating them out as us and them,” Obama said. “If we try to reassert hard, fixed borders at a time when technology and information are borderless, not only will we fail but will see greater conflict and clashes between peoples.”
He credits his solo trip through Europe and Kenya in his mid-20s as a transformational experience that shaped his worldview and urged destinations to make travel visas more widely available, impose stricter environmental protections, and create safer environments for female travellers.
“If you’re part of a tourism council in a city or nation where young women feel uncomfortable where they’re travelling, that will potentially reduce your market,” Obama said. “Young women aren’t going to put up with that; they don’t need to feel harassed or uncomfortable when they travel.”
Obama explained that he still had a number of places to check off on his bucket list including India’s legendary Taj Mahal, the sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the wilderness of Antarctica, and Patagonia in South America.