UNWTO says investments key to transform tourism

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The 118th Session of the Executive Council will be held in the Dominican Republic.
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  • On the eve of the Marrakesh meeting, the United Nations General Assembly was presented with a a draft resolution calling on all to promote tourism
  • The Executive Council is the top governing body of UNWTO and meets twice a year

Marrakesh, Morocco—The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) convened its 117th Executive Council in Marrakesh, Morocco, as the sector’s recovery continues to gather pace.

According to UNWTO data released this week, international arrivals are on track to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

However, building on its year-long call for both public and private sector leaders to “rethink tourism”, UNWTO placed innovation, investments and education and youth empowerment at the centre of discussions, while also emphasizing heightened interest for transformation through Climate Action and the sector’s importance for rural development everywhere.

Welcoming 16 Ministers of Tourism and delegations from 36 countries, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili underscored that “the window of opportunity to transform our sector will not stay open for long”.

He emphasized that “now is the time to fast-track building a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable sector”, and reminded this leading UNWTO governing body that tourism’s success cannot longer be measured based on numbers alone, “but rather on the impact our sector has on lives, on livelihoods and the wellbeing of both people and planet”.

On the eve of the Marrakesh meeting, the United Nations General Assembly was presented with a a draft resolution calling on all to promote tourism in their work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In January this year, the chief of the UN’s global tourism body said in an interview that the global tourism industry, which has taken hit after hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic and waves of its variants, is “very resilient” and will stage a comeback.

The resolution, which so far has the support of 104 countries, is the culmination of UNWTO’s enhanced presence at the highest political level.

Last year, the tourism scene did not evoke much hope for it to make a comeback. In July 2021, a UN report said that about 31 percent of all travel destinations in the Middle East remain closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, as it expected global vaccination rollout and increased adoption of digital solutions for safe travel to lead to a rise in international mobility over the weeks and months ahead.

Alongside sharing this landmark moment for the sector, in his report to members on its achievements since the previous Council meeting, Secretary-General Pololikashvili illustrated how UNWTO is leading the transformation of the tourism.

Central to this is a stepping up of education and training programmes, promoting investments in tourism for growth and sustainability, and through providing technical assistance for Member States in every region. Executive Council members also heard how UNWTO has delivered in advocating for tourism at the very highest level.

The Executive Council is the top governing body of UNWTO and meets twice a year. Made up of 34 Members, it works with the Secretary-General to implement both its own decisions and the recommendations of the Assembly.

The 118th Session of the Executive Council will be held in the Dominican Republic and the next hosts sent a message to all fellow Members looking forward to welcoming them in 2023.

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