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International tourism arrivals hit record high in 2017

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The number of people travelling abroad has hit its highest level since 2010, according to data from the Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The latest edition of its Tourism Highlights, published on Monday, shows international arrivals reached 1.323 million last year.

The figure represents an 84 million increase over 2016, and a new record, with the sector also recording “uninterrupted growth” in arrivals for eight consecutive years.

Europe and Africa led the regions with increases in arrivals, with growth of eight per cent and nine per cent, respectively.

WTO added that tourism is the world’s third largest export category, earning $1.3 trillion in receipts in 2017: an increase of five per cent.

Meanwhile, total exports from international tourism stood at $1.6 trillion, or an average of $4 billion a day: that is, seven per cent of the world’s exports.

“These strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years,” WTO said in a press release.

“Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations.”

Seven of the 10 top tourism destinations are also leaders worldwide in both international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

China also was responsible for generating nearly one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017. Citizens of the world’s most populous country spent $258 billion on international travel last year.

WTO added that so far, 2018 shows international tourism continues to grow, “with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April.”

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Kingdom of Morocco to Host Next WRO General Assembly in 2021

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The Kingdom of Morocco has been officially chosen as the host of the 24th Session of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), to be held in 2021.

At the conclusion of the 23rd General Assembly in St Petersburg, Member States of the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, were asked to choose between Morocco, Kenya and the Philippines. All three Member States had presented their candidatures over the preceding days, highlighting their commitment to accessibility and sustainability and for using tourism as a driver for job creation and economic growth for all.

The 24th Session of the General Assembly will be held in the city of Marrakesh in 2021, with the exact dates to be confirmed.

UNWTO General-Secretary Zurab Pololikashvili said: “I offer my warmest congratulations to Morocco. They are a long-standing ally of UNWTO and at this General Assembly they clearly demonstrated how the Kingdom has embraced tourism as a driver of positive change over the past few decades. Morocco also showed it has the infrastructure and the commitment necessary to host the most important high-level even for the global tourism sector. At the same time, I thank both Kenya and the Philippines for their candidatures. Both presented exceptionally strong cases.”

For the first time at a UNWTO General Assembly, Member States used an anonymous electronic voting system, with one vote per Member State. This switch away from paper ballots brings UNWTO in line with other United Nations agencies, further emphasising the Organization’s firm commitment to becoming an integral part of the wider UN system.

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Tourism has ‘Life-Changing Potential’

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Tourism Ministers from around the world have gathered at the 23d Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in St Petersburg. The future of tourism jobs in a changing world, and the way tourism can help provide education for all, has featured prominently among ministerial debates.

Held as UNWTO celebrates its Year of Jobs and Education, the High-Level Debate saw leaders and representatives from more than 100 countries discuss the biggest challenges facing the tourism sector as it works to fulfill its potential as one of the world’s main sources of employment.

Supporting 1 in 10 jobs worldwide and a leading employer of women, youth and people living in rural or marginalized communities, tourism has been recognized as a key pillar of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda. However, global demographic shifts, new technology and urbanization are all having a significant impact on both work and education in the tourism sector, and the opportunities and challenges posed by all three of these mega-trends were the subject of lively discussion in St Petersburg.

During the debate, which was moderated by UNWTO’s media partner CNN International, Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “We represent one of the major drivers of global development, a leading source of employment and ongoing training, transforming the lives of millions around the world. Tourism must be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow and this ministerial debate demonstrates that we recognize that tourism jobs need new and different skills over the coming years.”

The debate formed part of the 23rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Held every two years, the General Assembly brings together the world leaders, tourism ministers and key representatives from the public and private sectors and is the most important body of UNWTO, the United Nations specialized agency for responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism.

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African Tourism Leaders Meet in Saint Petersburg to Plot Future Growth of Continent’s Tourism Sector

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Leaders from across Africa have met in Saint Petersburg ahead of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to discuss the key issues facing the continent as it looks to grow its tourism sector and harness it as a key driver of economic development and social transformation.

Held in the historic Tauride Palace, the 62nd meeting of the UNWTO’s Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) came on the back of the latest Barometer from the United Nations specialized agency for sustainable and responsible tourism. This most recent data shows that international tourist arrivals to African destinations grew by 3% during the first six months of the year when compared with 2018. In particular, North African destinations continue to bounce back from recent difficulties, enjoying a 10% increase in arrivals for the six months.

The key focus of the CAF meeting was the UNWTO’s 2030 Agenda for Africa. This blueprint for the future of African tourism was launched after the UNWTO’s African Member States requested help in drawing up plans for growing and managing tourism and in making the sector a central driver of economic growth and sustainable development.

Addressing the meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Africa has everything to position itself as a global tourism leader. 60% of Africans are under the age of 25. And African cities are real hubs of innovation, with entrepreneurs and innovators finding new ways to manage how we travel. With a concerted approach we can expect international tourist arrivals to Africa to reach 135 million by 2030. Together, we can ensure that this is good news for everyone. More tourists mean more jobs, more schools and greater protection for cultural and natural heritage.”

The African delegates will remain in St Petersburg for the 23rd session of the UNWTO’s General Assembly, the most important high-level event for the global tourism sector. Held every two years, this General Assembly will focus on tourism’s role in the global Sustainable Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular emphasis on the sector’s role in education, job creation and tackling climate change.

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