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European Tourism Ministers meet in Croatia to Advance Development, Innovation and Partnerships

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Innovation, partnerships and managing rising tourist numbers have been top of the agenda at the 64th Meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Europe, held in Zagreb, Croatia this week (27-30 May). 

Croatia was unanimously chosen to host the annual meeting of the tourism ministers of UNWTO Member States in Europe. The country is one of the region’s tourism destinations, welcoming 20 million international arrivals in 2018, a 6.7% increase on the previous year. A strong partner of UNWTO, the country is home to the Zagreb Sustainable Tourism Observatory, part of the global UNWTO Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories.

The meeting was attended by representatives of more than 40 Member States, a record level of high-level participation for the Regional Commission for Europe. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to thank him for Croatia’s commitment to sustainable tourism. Mr Pololikashvili also met with Ms. Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and with Croatia’s Minister of Tourism, Gari Capelli, for high-level discussions on destination management and sustainability.

“It is so encouraging to see not just so many ministers joining us here in Zagreb, but to also witness the genuine enthusiasm our European Member States have for managing tourism and harnessing it as a driver of sustainable development”, Mr Pololikashvili says. “Regional and international cooperation are vital to face up to the challenges linked to tourist numbers, especially in urban areas. This week’s meeting in Zagreb proves the desire to make tourism a force for good.”

Croatia’s Minister of Tourism, Gari Capelli, added that “Croatia is extremely proud and honoured to be hosting this meeting. Tourism is an engine for many innovative and developmental processes, a creative force for new jobs and a tool for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. This is a great opportunity to jointly guide trends and policies in the right direction. I am confident that together we will continue finding the right answers to all open questions and consolidate the path of responsible, sustainable and ethical tourism”, he added.

In the context of the ministerial meeting, public and private sectors gathered for a special Workshop on Growth, Innovation and Partnerships. UNWTO Affiliate Members including Amadeus, ICCA, Niantic and Google, presented products aimed at improving tourism management and sustainability.

Furthermore, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili met with Davor Suker, President of the Croatian Football Federation, to discuss the opportunities presented by the growing market for sports tourism.

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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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