Tourism should lead the drive for sustainable development – WTO boss
The tourism sector’s role and responsibility in contributing to sustainable development on a global scale was the central message of the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation when he opened the ITB Berlin travel trade show earlier this week.
The World Tourism Organisation is part of the bigger United Nations framework. The Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili addressed tourism ministers from around the world as well as private sector representatives of the tourism sector. He told his audience about the importance of not only growing tourism but “to grow better.”
In 2017, international tourist numbers grew a record 7% to reach 1.3 billion. The UNWTO’s message underlines the need to turn these figures into benefits for all people and all communities. “Leaving no one behind” is the benchmark for true sustainability, which must also decouple growth from resource use and place climate change response at the heart of the tourism sector’s agenda.
“Tourism’s sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development”, said the UNWTO Secretary General, while warning at the same time that it also brings in many challenges. “Adapting to the challenges of safety and security, constant market changes, digitalization and the limits of our natural resources should be priorities in our common action.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony were the German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, the President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry, Dr Michael Frenzel, the Premier of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig and Dr Christian Göke, the Chief Executive of Messe Berlin.
“Tourism is an example of the opportunities of globalisation. Tourism brings people closer together and creates the foundation for growth” said Chancellor Merkel. “We are committed to the Agenda 2030. We are committed to sustainable tourism.” she added stressing the role of tourism in the UN’s sustainable development agenda
The UNWTO Secretary General stressed education and job creation, innovation and technology, safety and security; and sustainability and climate change as the priorities for the sector to consolidate its contribution to sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, against the backdrop of its expansion in all world regions and the socio-economic impact this entails.
To address these issues, Mr. Pololikashvili concluded that “public private cooperation as well as public public coordination must be strengthened to translate tourism growth into more investment, more jobs and better livelihoods.”