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Emerging From The Global Economic Recession

T.20 Ministers' Meeting promotes dialogue for best practices

eTN Staff Writer  Feb 26, 2010

The T.20 Ministers’ Meeting is a member-driven initiative, acting as a forum for the growth and development of sustainable tourism by promoting dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and best practices amongst the T.20 economies. At the invitation of the Republic of South Africa, the T.20 tourism ministers and high officials convened in Johannesburg, South Africa, from February 22-24, 2010 at the Sandton Convention Centre for a first meeting at a time when the world is starting to emerge from an unprecedented global economic recession, which impacted all economic sectors, including tourism.

The meeting had the full support of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and was enriched by expert contributions from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Considering that travel and tourism is an important sector of the global economy, representing a direct contribution of between 6 and 7 percent of the global gross domestic product, with an even higher contribution when tourism-related sectors are taken into consideration, the sector should be recognized as a significant economic and development driver nationally and on multilateral economic platforms.

On a global level, the sector plays an important role in employment in all countries of the world, providing 75 million direct jobs worldwide. The industry has the capacity to accelerate job creation and offers fast entry into the workforce, particularly for youth and women in urban and rural communities. Tourism is particularly important as a source of export revenue, contributing 30 percent of the world’s services exports, amounting to US$1 trillion a year, and 45 percent of the total services exports in developing countries.

The tourism sector also has great potential to encourage the transformation towards a greener and more sustainable economy. It has the ability to strengthen local economies, promote and enhance local identities and cultural heritage to the benefit of future generations, and to build mutual understanding and tolerance between people in a stable and equitable world.

As the world economy re-energizes following the recession, the tourism sector’s contribution required for the global economic recovery stretches far and wide, and growing an economically and environmentally socially-sustainable travel and tourism sector on an ethical basis, can play a meaningful role to stimulate growth, create jobs, develop infrastructure and rural economies, promote trade, alleviate poverty, and facilitate development in the least-developed and emerging economies.

Although the process of recovery is under way, it is still fragile and uneven, and growing the gross domestic product and employment remains the key challenges. The economic crisis and the coordinated international efforts that followed, demonstrated the importance of strengthened international cooperation and engagement to tackle global issues, and in this context, the need for tourism ministers and high officials to speak in a coordinated manner.

The T.20 meeting explored the synergies between strengthened global economic cooperation andthe tourism sector's efforts to build resilience and stimulate new, sustained, and responsible growth. Following a constructive and future-oriented meeting, ministers and high officials concluded with the following recommendations:

- To strengthen the analytical base that underpins the economic and development case for travel and tourism

- To intensify collaboration to position tourism as a key driver of sustainable economic and social development

- To enhance the role of tourism to contribute towards creating new, decent employment opportunities, boosting trade, renewing infrastructure, and above all, accelerating ethical and sustainable development, thereby expanding the reach of the economic benefits of tourism to a larger segment of the world population

- To continue to examine broad international economic frameworks that have a significant impact on global tourism development

- To increase cooperation between countries, working closely with stakeholders, with a view to facilitating international movement of tourists, addressing restrictive travel barriers, and fostering mutual understanding and collaboration

- To engage and partner with the international community, including the UNWTO; G20; international and intergovernmental bodies such as UNEP, the ITC, and ILO; private sector organizations and associations such as the WTTC; national governments and regional organizations; and the European Commission in order to advance tourism’s role in stimulating the global economy, enhancing employment, creating decent jobs, alleviating poverty, supporting development, and transforming progressively into a greener, more sustainable economy

The ministers and high officials expressed their appreciation to the South African minister of tourism, Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and the South African government for the leadership in hosting the first T.20 Ministers’ Meeting, and to the Republic of Korea for their gracious invitation to convene the second T.20 Ministers’ Meeting before November 2010 to review progress and continue this constructive dialogue.

T.20 Ministers' Meeting promotes dialogue for best practices
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