Obama recalls his travels with his family at tourism summit in Seville

Barack Obama addresses the WTTC global summit in Seville.
Barack Obama addresses the WTTC global summit in Seville. / EP
  • The ex-president of the United States was in the Andalusian capital on Wednesday where he held a brief meeting with PM Pedro Sánchez

Barack Obama was in Seville on Wednesday where he was the keynote speaker at the World Travel & Tourism Council's global summit.

The former US president expressed his satisfaction at finally being able to see the city after having to cancel his planned institutional visit in 2016 due to a terrorist attack in Dallas.

His sightseeing tour, however, which included the Real Alcázar and tapas in the old town, was enjoyed behind a strict security barrier, impenetrable by photographers.

Obama landed in Seville in the early hours of Wednesday morning and stayed at the city's most iconic hotel, the Alfonso XIII.

There was great expectation among the around 2,000 delegates at the WTTC summit, as Obama took to the stage to speak of his own travels, using the theme as a base from which to approach climate change, populism, women's rights, migration and the future of today's youth, an issue particularly close to his heart since he left the White House in 2017.

He spoke especially of his daughters Sasha and Malia and his wife Michelle, saying that his most memorable travels had been with his family. He probably didn't have much time left to enjoy travelling as a family, he said, as his daughters are now 20 and 17. The elder of the two, Malia, is perhaps responsible for the ex-president's acceptance of the invitation to speak in Seville: she had previously spent several months studying in Seville.

His participation at the summit, which was attended by numerous tourism ministers from around the world, as well as business owners and another former president, Mexico's Felipe Calderón, was billed as a "Conversation" with Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta.

Obama, who revealed he was writing his memoirs, also spoke of his trip as a young man to Kenya to meet his father's family. He expressed his concerns, however, that future generations might not have so many opportunities. If the oceans rise a few centimetres more, he said, "some of the most spectacular parts of the world we always want to visit might not survive".

Meeting with Sánchez

Obama with Pedro Sánchez in Seville.

Obama with Pedro Sánchez in Seville. / AFP

The issue of climate change was among others that came up in his later meeting with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez.

According to sources at Moncloa, the pair also discussed their concerns about youth and employment and the situation of women as well as how building walls against immigration was not the path to follow.