World Tourism meeting looks at Visa’s
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe was abuzz this week as more than a 120 delegates ascended on the idylic tourist attraction to deliberate the future of the tourism trade. The 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly came together to discuss burning issues in the trade and to elect a new Secretary General for the next four years.
This year’s UNWTO General Assembly focused on strategies to ensure sustainable growth in tourism. The delegates from UNWTO members states finalised the organisation’s Programme of Work for 2014 to 2015.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greeted the participants in a video message. “Tourism is an undisputed generator of national wealth, corporate income and local employment. Managed sustainably, it can benefit people and planet alike,” he said addressing the Assembly. “As we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and define a post-2015 development agenda, I call on all UNWTO members and the global tourism community to examine how best to contribute to sustainable development.”
“This assembly is a timely opportunity for all of us to continue along an encouraging path to drive tourism towards its fullest potential in fostering sustainable economic growth, jobs and development and what better backdrop to do so than here in Africa, a region where we believe tourism can be a true force for good” said current UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
The General Assembly is the main statutory meeting of UNWTO and the most important gathering of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives from around the world. Held every two years, the Assembly is attended by delegations representing Full and Associate UNWTO Members, Affiliate Members, and representatives of other international organizations.
According to UNWTO´s latest barometer, Africa enjoyed the second highest growth across world regions in 2012.With 3 million more tourists in 2012, the region exceeded the 50 million mark for the first time ever, reaching a total of 52 million. Africa maintained a 5% share in the world´s total arrivals and 3% in receipts. Sub-saharan destinations had a 5% increase, with South Africa, the largest destination in the subregion, reporting a 10% growth. Prospects are bright for Africa, which is projected to have a 4 to 6% growth in 2013.