CHENGDU: The global tourism community is “more united than ever” according to United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Secretary Taleb Rifai.
Addressing the opening session of the 22nd session of the UNWTO General Assembly, he set an optimistic tone for the event and said , despite the challenges faced by global tourism, the sector was “more committed than ever to working closer together to make it a pillar of a better future for people and the planet”.
“The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development that we are celebrating globally throughout 2017 has provided us with the platform to reinforce this consensus, which is so important for us to position the tourism sector in the global agenda,” he added. Over 1,000 delegates gathered at the UNWTO General Assembly.
The bi-annual event, which this year takes place in Chengdu, China until September 16th, will discuss how to advance the contribution of tourism to the United Nations sustainable development goals and define the actions of the organization for the period 2018-2019.
Rifai added: “We know that it has not been an easy path.
“Safety and security challenges and issues arising from the impact of technology and transformative business models add to the pressing need to make our sector more competitive and sustainable.
“But in the face of those, a stronger, more responsible and more united tourism community has emerged.”
A high-level debate on tourism and the development goals, a special session on smart tourism, and the conversion of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics into an international Convention will all be highlights of the event.
Rifai concluded: “We are more determined than to maximise the benefits that tourism brings to our societies, not only as a driver of economic development and peace, but also for its impact on the environment and on cultural preservation.
“We also see that, more and more, governments and administrations across the world are prioritising tourism to transform their countries for the better.”