Last week, key UNWTO experts responded to the impacts of the pandemic at the General Assembly in Madrid. On the third day of the meetup, stakeholders looked ahead to a more sustainable and inclusive future for the sector.
In a thematic session entitled “Building for the Future: Innovation, Education and Rural Development,” Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez Pérez-Castejón highlighted the importance of the sector for providing opportunities outside of cities, both in Spain and worldwide, while also reaffirming his Government’s support for UNWTO’s mission. Also addressing delegates, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili offered this:
“If we are serious about ‘leaving nobody behind’, then we must get serious about innovation, about education and about advancing tourism as a tool for rural development. That means empowering youth, supporting tourism talent, and also giving the best solutions the political and financial support they need to scale up and transform our sector.”
Ministers Advance Shared Vision for Sector
The session included a Ministerial Debate on ‘Politics to Foster Tourism for Rural Development’, with insights and inputs from the Ministers of Tourism for Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Paraguay, Slovenia, Tanzania, Spain and Turkey. This was followed by a roundtable on entrepreneurship and innovation in innovation. Representing Members States were Ministers of Tourism from Chile, Greece, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, while the private sector was represented by winners of the UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition. Concluding, a discussion on empowering the tourism leaders of the future, with reference to the UNWTO Students’ League, featured contributions from the Ministers of Tourism for Bulgaria, Lebanon, Maldives and Oman, as well as students themselves.
As well as looking to the future, the General Assembly also celebrated destinations that are already leading the way in making tourism a pillar of rural development and opportunity. From hundreds of entries, 44 villages from 32 countries were named as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO.
Uzbekistan to host 25th General Assembly
In addition to the Thematic Session, the third day of the 24th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly once again saw Members meet to discuss and approve the Programme of Work for the next two years. On the agenda was the UNWTO leadership’s determination to move the Secretariat closer to Member States, as exemplified by the first Regional Office for the Middle East, opened in June this year and ratified by Member States at the General Assembly. Several Members expressed a wish to host future Regional Offices and so serve as hubs for UNWTO’s work in their regions.
Sources: Travel Daily News and the UNWTO