Ministers at UNWTO focus on tourism transformation

Tourism education, sustainability, and governance took centre stage at the World Travel Market’s Ministers’ Summit. With the theme Rethinking Tourism, the 16th Summit gathered ministers and high-level delegates from 19 countries, alongside business leaders.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili told tourism sector leaders that “our job is to create jobs” during this consolidated platform for public and private sector leaders that addresses tourism’s most pressing issues and sets the agenda for the years ahead.

Pololikashvili: we need to rethink tourism

Opening the event, Pololikashvili emphasised the unique opportunity to transform the sector. He said: “The window of opportunity will not stay open forever. We need to rethink tourism – as a provider of jobs, an economic pillar, and, against the backdrop of COP27, as a solution to the climate emergency.”

Education and jobs key to tourism’s future
Pololikashvili presented an overview of UNWTO’s work leading the transformation of tourism, with focus on investing in sustainable infrastructure and in people (through quality education and providing decent jobs).

Echoing UNWTO’s position, Juliette Losardo, exhibition director at World Travel Market, noted that “a post-pandemic world has revealed exciting opportunities, and given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reconsider tourism and ask ourselves how we can rebuild and better prepare for the future”.

Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which co-organises the summit with UNWTO, spotlighted the “talent, speed and capital” of the private sector.

Global expertise for common challenges
The roundtable brought together ministers of tourism from every global region, each providing unique insights from their own countries.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, minister of tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, stressed putting “sustainability above everything”, as well as the country’s focus on innovation and youth.

Highlighting the importance of diversifying national tourism sectors, including through domestic and rural tourism, and creating new products were Abdulla Mausoom, minister of tourism for the Maldives, the minister for Portugal, Rita Marques, and the minister for Egypt, Ahmed Issa.

Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister and minister of tourism for Mauritius, Ivan Collendavelloo, pointed out its ability to promote peace, adding that “we need to look beyond tourism to rebuild tourism”.

Also contributing to discussions were the ministers from Bahrain, Costa Rica Ecuador, Croatia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Tourism’s unprecedented political relevance
High-level participants emphasised that now is the time for the tourism sector to focus more on cooperation rather than competition.

The ministers also acknowledged Pololikashvili’s call for tourism to be mainstreamed within the political agenda and for greater collaboration between ministries of tourism and those of economy, business and environment.

The World Travel Market will also host the launch of the new Travel Trends Report 2023, produced by UNWTO in partnership with leading broadcaster Euronews.

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