UNWTO News 64

Release Date: 
21 Jun 17

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has appointed the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, as Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017. The ceremony took place in New York on 7 June on the side-lines of the UN Ocean Conference, where among other activities the Prime Minister addressed participants on the value of tourism to sustainably advance the blue economy. 

Over 30 countries and Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) gathered last week in Chisinau, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova, for the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe. Participants discussed the priority areas for the Organization as well as strategies to position the tourism sector as a key driver of sustainable development in Europe (6 June 2017).

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), together with the Ministry of Tourism of El Salvador and the Honduran Institute of Tourism, jointly held the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas. The meeting, which took place in San Salvador and Roatán on 30 and 31 May 2017, respectively, culminated in an international seminar on new technologies applied to tourism on 1 June 2017. 

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) presented the Open Letter on Travel and Tourism to the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. The Open Letter outlines tourism’s value as one of the world’s largest generators of jobs and a powerful driver of socio-economic growth and sustainable development. To date, the Open Letter has been received by 89 Heads of State and Government.

The Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations has chosen ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’ as the theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated today 22 May 2017. On this occasion, UNWTO is launching a capacity building programme on sustainable tourism and biodiversity protection, to be implemented in West and Central Africa.

The new vision of the Statistical Centre for the Cooperation Council for the Arab Countries of the Gulf (GCC-STAT) aims to prepare Strategic Planning and Roadmaps for Development to 2020 for eleven economic sectors including tourism. In doing so, and taking into account the experience of UNWTO in developing the internationally recognized methodologies for setting up national tourism statistical systems and the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), GCC-STAT requested UNWTO’s technical assistance in the preparation of the road map for the harmonization of the collection and analysis of tourism statistics and related economic data.
Given that UNWTO has, or is currently, providing technical assistance in tourism statistics to Oman, Qatar and the UAE, it was agreed that UNWTO would undertake assessment missions to Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as a first step, to analyse the current status of their respective tourism statistical systems and areas for improvement. The GCC Member States comprise Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

2016 proved to be another excellent year for international tourism despite many challenges. International tourist arrivals grew for the seventh consecutive year to reach 1.2 billion, a sequence of uninterrupted growth not recorded since the 1960s. The strongest growth was recorded in Africa and in the Asia and the Pacific region.

2016 was also a key year for UNWTO as we embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into all our activities. Want to know more? 

Today, tourism represents 10% of the world’s GDP, 7% of global exports, and 1 in every 10 jobs worldwide. In 2015, tourism was the third export-earning category after fuels and chemicals. Yet, with growth comes responsibility. Tourism is estimated to account for 5% of global CO2 emissions, of which 40% derive from air transport and 20% from hotels and other types of accommodation. The remaining 40% of those emissions are related to other types of transport segments (cruises, cars, railway, etc.) and tourism’s recreational services. The “greening” and “decarbonizing” of the tourism sector is crucial for building a more sustainable and competitive sector. This requires vision, innovation, sound planning, good management, and monitoring by all players. The Tourism and Future Energy World Conference aimed to stimulate discussion among industry leaders, entrepreneurs, financiers and policy makers. It explored new opportunities and innovative solutions for future energy in the global tourism sector to contribute to low carbon growth.