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Sustainable Tourism: A roadmap towards 2030

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Participants from around the world joined the Official Closing ceremony of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 at the Palace of Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The event reviewed the year´s main achievements and discussed the roadmap for advancing the contribution of tourism towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, has been a unique opportunity for all of us to come together to promote the contribution of tourism to shape a better future for people and planet and to contribute to making this world a better place.“ said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, opening of the event. “We count on you as we embark on this exciting new journey towards 2030. I trust that together, as a sector, as people with the same vision and commitment, we will go far.” he added.

“Sustainability remains the bedrock of our activity. We will continue to drive the conversation on planning for and managing tourism growth, define a sector-wide response to climate change, work on how the sector can reduce illegal trade in wildlife and contribute to inclusive job creation” said Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

“It is so important that we succeed in making tourism sustainable by making sustainable tourism economically viable, culturally accepted, and universally practiced.” said Michael Møller, Director General, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). “The United Nations World Tourism Organization deserves great credit for tackling this head on throughout this past year.” he added.

“I personally believe that the future of tourism lies in enabling ICT capacities. Accordingly, we should harness those powers for smart tourism… I believe that the way forward in our journey to 2030, is smart tourism. I call on all of you to guide me and support me in this endeavor” said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization in Jordan.

”In the future, a strong international cooperation of all relevant actors involved in the tourism sector should become the driving force to promote sustainable tourism and to implement tourism policies efficiently” said Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary Economic Affairs (SECO) of Switzerland.

Addressing the event was also HM King Simeon II, Special Ambassador of the IY2017 who stressed the importance of public/private partnerships for sustainable tourism.

The panel discussions counted with the participation of the Ministers of Tourism of Costa Rica, Mauricio Ventura, Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett and Kenya, Najib Balala alongside representatives of IY2017 partners such All Nippon Airways, Amadeus, the Balearic Islands Tourism Agency, ECPAT International, the Institute for Tourism and Leisure, HTW Chur University in Switzerland, Minube, Myclimate, PRMEDIACO and the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority in the United Arab Emirates.

As part of the legacy of the IY2017, UNWTO presented the results of the ‘Tourism and SDGs’ Report developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report which looks into the links between tourism and the SDGs in national policies as well as private sector strategies shows the relevance for the sector of Goals 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

On the occasion, UNWTO launched the Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals Programme as a legacy of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The Programme aims at advocating for the contribution of sustainable tourism´s to the 17 SDGs and encouraging the full integration of tourism and the SDGs in national, regional and global agendas. It includes the future ‘Tourism and SDGs’ online platform – a co-creation space to inspire and empower the tourism sector to act  –  developed by UNWTO with the support of SECO and an Ambassadors Initiative.

The Tourism and SDGs Ambassadors designated on the occasion include HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, the President of Costa Rica, HE Luis Guillermo Solís, Mr. Huayong Ge, President of UnionPay China; Dr Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization and Dr Michael Frenzel, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry.

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UNWTO and NEOM Launch ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ Challenge

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The ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ challenge will source innovative ideas and disruptive business models related to the tourism needs of the future, in line with growing demand for new experiences. All proposals must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and should include the introduction or adaptation of digital and technological elements, as well as being focused at least one of the following areas:

  • Optimizing and maximizing the potential of experiential tourism
  • Harnessing the positive impact of new technology
  • Alternative business models
  • Innovative experiences

The competition is the first national initiative dedicated to identifying new companies that will lead the tourism sector’s transformation in Saudi Arabia. As well as established businesses, the competition also welcomes applications from Saudi Arabian start-ups and innovators with ideas capable of revolutionizing and inspiring tourists by presenting new ways and reasons to travel.

Applications are open until 2 November, with great interest expected, and participants must be Saudi citizens with legal capacity to enter into a contract. Successful projects will be selected based on various criteria, such as the degree of innovation, their viability and sustainability.

An Affiliate Member of UNWTO since 2019, NEOM is an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a new future might look like. Located in northwest Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea, NEOM is ideally situated at the crossroads of the world, comprising a total area of 26,500 km². A special authority has been established to oversee NEOM, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

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Time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism

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Tourism “touches almost every part of our economies and societies”, enabling the historically marginalized, and “those at risk of being left behind, to benefit from development”, declared UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, marking World Tourism Day.  

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy, according to a recent report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Emergency for developing countries 

Highlighting the fact that in the first months of this year, “international tourist arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world”, Mr. Guterres said that tourism continues to suffer enormously due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency”, he added.  

“Climate change is also severely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States”, his message added. There, tourism accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all economic activity.  

Tourism for inclusive growth 

Acknowledging that many millions of livelihoods are in jeopardy, Mr. Guterres said that now it is “time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism”. 

“With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”, he added. 

According to the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism (UNWTO), tourism is a recognized pillar of most the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (poverty-elimination), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (to reduce inequalities). 

In his message, Mr. Guterres went on to call for targeted action and investment, towards green and sustainable tourism, “with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality”.  

Adding that everybody should have a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies, the UN chief concluded that “only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential”. 

The sector could then become “an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples”, said Mr. Guterres. 

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Africa’s Tourism Leaders Identify Investments as Key to Sustainable Recovery

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The African Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have met in Cabo Verde to strengthen their cooperation and advance plans for recovery and sustainable growth.

The 64th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) saw 23 countries represented on the island of Sal, with 21 Ministers of Tourism joining five Ambassadors for the high-level event. Opening the Commission meeting, the President of Cabo Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca offered a warm welcome to UNWTO’s leadership and to all delegates. The President was joined by Cabo Verde’s Minister of Tourism and Transport, Carlos Jorge Duarte Santos, and Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva in reaffirming support of the highest political level for tourism and recognition of the sector as a driver of recovery and sustainable development.

Chaired by Christine Kaseba Sata, Ambassador of Zambia to Spain and Permanent Representative to UNWTO, delegates addressed the biggest challenges standing in the way of the sector’s safe restart across the continent. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of speeding up vaccine rollouts across the continent, as well as addressing security issues that continue to have an impact on how global travellers perceive Africa as a safe tourism destination. Also on the agenda was the current level of connectivity between destinations, with improved air links the harmonization of travel protocols identified as an effective means for boosting regional tourism.

Tourism’s restart ‘essential’

Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed delegates to the Commission meeting, providing an overview of UNWTO’s work during the ongoing crisis and how this is driven by the stated priorities of its African Member States. He said. “The continent is united in its determination to use the power of tourism to drive development and opportunity for all. And with coordination and targeted investments, African tourism can finally fulfil its unique potential.”

Rebuilding trust in travel

In Cabo Verde, UNWTO Members were brought up-to-date on the development of the International Code for the Protection of Tourists, a landmark code aimed at helping restore confidence in travel. Members were also presented with an overview of the UNWTO General Programme of Work & Budget for the Period 2022-2023. Additionally, signalling a shared determination to keep moving forward even in challenging times, Members also held elections for key positions within UNWTO decision-making bodies ahead of the 24th General Assembly.

Building capacity

Running in parallel with the Commission meeting, UNWTO hosted capacity building workshops on innovation, digital marketing and investment These workshops were held ahead of the second edition of the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum, opened by Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva and featuring the participation of investors from Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the USA as well as public and private sector leaders from across Africa. Backing up the workshop on marketing, UNWTO also launched its new Brand Africa publication. Produced with key African Tourism Partners, the publication aims at helping destinations use effective branding to diversify and attract visitors.

Also in Cabo Verde, tourism leader celebrated the signing and approval of the UNWTO Declaration on the Future of Mobility and Sustainable Transportation, a commitment aimed at the better understanding of how investments can help make the sector greener while also encouraging greater cooperation between tourism authorities and transport providers. Concluding the Regional Commission meeting, UNWTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Cabo Verde. The aim of the MoU is to enhance cooperation between UNWTO and the Ministry of Tourism to strengthen the country’s branding, boost tourism education initiatives, and support research into the socio-economic impact of the sustainable development of tourism across Cabo Verde.

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