Digital Platforms and the Future of Tourism: A World Tourism Day Celebration

September 26, 2018

Washington, D.C.


Digital platforms are disrupting the way the tourism sector is run from end to end—impacting the way destinations facilitate tourism, develop product, gather data, access markets, and attract visitors. This digital disruption has ripple effects across the tourism industry, making it challenging for low-income markets to leverage tourism for development impacts. How can the World Bank Group, international partners, country leaders and businesses work together to better manage digital for sustainable tourism development in emerging markets.

  • Sustainable tourism is a proven tool for development, benefiting countries and communities around the world. When properly managed, tourism can contribute to national economic development, leverage human capital, improve livelihoods particularly for women and rural entrepreneurs, support cultural heritage and resources protection, and promote international understanding. Digital platforms and the fourth revolution are disrupting the way the tourism sector is run from end to end—impacting the way destinations facilitate tourism, develop product, gather data, access markets, and attract visitors. This disruption has ripple effects across the tourism industry and effects low-income markets striving to leverage tourism for development impacts. Two prominent disruptors are the digital platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer accommodation and user-generated content, which have shifted the power away from media companies and hotel conglomerates into the hands of the consumers.

    The peer-to-peer accommodation economy is growing six times as fast as other forms of accommodation. Peer reviews and other user-generated content (UGC) facilitated by digital platforms have become the fastest growing and most important sources of travel information—more important than tourism board and traditional coverage. This disruption may present an opportunity for emerging markets to benefit from lower barriers to entry, increased access to market and data, new accommodate inventory. But these changes can also marginalize those less digitally able and concentrate power in a few monopolistic platforms.

    This event brings together key thought leaders to answer some of key questions for development: are these technologies accessible, are they leading to more inclusive outcomes, how can these technologies benefit tourism development in emerging economies, and what are the risks and how are we addressing them? The Forum will focus on how digital platforms can contribute to tourism for development, and support the World Bank Group’s the twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity. It will also address ways in which the World Bank Group, global leaders, and policy makers can work together to deliver on this agenda.

    The event will be held at the World Bank Headquarters and broadcast globally online.  

  • Wednesday, September 26, 2018


    Registration and Breakfast (IFC Auditorium)



    Opening: Travel and Digital Platforms: Looking to the Future

    Host:  Ernesto Lopez-Cordova, Practice Manager, FCI


    Welcome Remarks: Akihiko Nishio, Acting Vice President, EFI


    Plenary Session: Digital Platforms and Sustainable Tourism

    What is big picture, future trajectory of digital platforms in travel? What challenges and opportunities do these platforms present for emerging and low-income economies? What opportunities do AI, virtual reality and other new tourism technologies present for development?

    Chair: Stephanie von Friedeburg, Chief Operating Officer, IFC


    Panelists (4):

    · Stephen Kaufer, President & CEO, Trip Advisor

    · Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary, Tourism & Wildlife, Kenya

    · Lesly Goh, Chief Technology Officer, World Bank Group

    · Carmen Pagés, Division Chief of Labor Markets, IDB


    Coffee Break



    Session 1: User Generated Content


    Part 1: Launch Report - The Voice of Travelers.

    An overview of the joint WBG/TripAdvisor report highlighting how user-generated content generates market access, big data, insights, access to content for marketing, and benchmarking information.


    Part 2: Panel Discussion

    The panelists will explore the following:

    · The power of UGC in tourism performance

    · How to leverage UGC for emerging and low-income economies

    · Big data and UGC applications

    · Future research areas

    ModeratorNorie Quintos, Editor-at-Large, National Geographic Traveler


    Report Overview:

    Charlie Ballard, Global Director, Strategic Insights, TripAdvisor

    Panelists (4):

    · Adam Sacks, President, Tourism Economics

    · Damien Cook, CEO & Founder E-Tourism Frontiers

    · H.E. Lina Annab, Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, Jordan

    · John Perrottet, Senior Private Sector Specialist, FCI


    Networking Lunch



    Session 2: Tourism Sharing Economy

    Part 1: Report Launch – Peer-to-Peer Accommodation.

    An overview of insights and opportunities of accommodation platforms to contribute to growth and inclusion.


    Part 2: Panel Discussion

    The panelists will explore the following:

    · The potential of digital platforms to boost entrepreneurship and market access, particularly for women

    · Challenges related to licensing, zoning and regulation

    · The experience of Jamaica

    · Future research needs

    Moderator: Edward Hsu, Senior Advisor, Office of the WBG President


    Report Overview: Louise Twining-Ward, FCI



    · Thao Nguyen, Director of Strategic Partnerships, APAC, Airbnb

    · Ryan Skeete, Director of Research & IT (Ag), Caribbean Tourism Organization

    · Ernesto Lopez-Cordova, Practice Manager, FCI

    · Christianna Johnnides, Senior Urban Management Specialist, GP SURR


    Session 3: Digital Platforms’ Role in Tourism Inclusion


    Panelists will explore:

    · What are the responsibilities of digital platforms to the destinations and entrepreneurs?

    · What are platforms already doing to encourage greater inclusion, especially of female and rural populations?

    · What are the gaps and future research needs?

    Moderator: Anita Mendiratta, Founder & President, CACHET Consulting


    Panelists (6):

    · Sally Davey, Global Director of Industry Relations, TripAdvisor

    · Marianne Gybels, Global Manager CSR,

    · Hon. Catherine Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana

    · Henriette Kolb, Head, Gender Secretariat, IFC

    · Hermione Nevill, Senior Private Sector Specialist, FCI (TBC)


    Closing Remarks


    Host:  Hannah Messerli, Senior Private Sector Specialist, FCI


    Closing Remarks: Najy Benhassine, Director, FCI


    Networking Reception to Follow



  • Stephanie von Friedeburg
    Chief Operating Officer, IFC

    Steve Kaufer
    President & CEO, TripAdvisor

    Lesly Goh
    Chief Technology Officer, World Bank Group

    Carmen Pagés
    Chief of the Labor Markets Division, Inter-American Development Bank

    Adam Sacks
    President, Tourism Economics

    Hon. Catherine Afeku
    Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Ghana

    H.E. Lina Annab
    Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, Jordan 

    Hon. Najib Balala
    Cabinet Secretary, Tourism & Wildlife, Kenya

    Ryan Skeete 
    Acting Director of Research at the Caribbean Tourism Organization


  • DATE: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
  • TIME: 8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
  • LOCATION: IFC Auditorium
  • ADDRESS: 2121 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
  • CONTACT: For more information, please email