The opening of the 22nd session of the UNWTO General Assembly was followed by a high level session on tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals and Building Partnerships for Development: The Example of the Belt and Road Initiative, conducted by Richard Quest of CNN International.
Among the participants were: Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO; Li Jinzao, Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA); His Majesty King Simeon II, Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development; Sandra Howard, Vice-Minister of Tourism of Colombia; Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Tourism of Azerbaijan; Pascal Lamy, the World Committee on Tourism Ethics; Mohammed Yehia Rashed, Minister of Tourism of Egypt; Lamia Boutaleb, Secretary of State for Tourism of Morocco; Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of Uganda; Benito Bengzon Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning of the Philippines; George Chogovadze, Head of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia; Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO of WTTC; and Ambassador Eric Jakob, Head of the Promotion Activities Directorate, State Secretariat from Switzerland.
“Growth and sustainability should go hand-in-hand. Recent protests in cities are the evidence that growth should be sustainable. But growth is not the enemy, as it is the story of humankind. We need to take local communities into account,” said Rifai.
The debate on the SDGs was followed by a session dedicated to the Belt and Road Initiative where the discussion focused on the characteristics of this initiative. Among the speakers were: UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, CNTA Chairman Li Jinzao, Oleg Safonov, Head, Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation, Roland Ratsiraka, Minister of Tourism of Madagascar, Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism of Cambodia, Nikolina Angelkova, Minister of Tourism of Bulgaria, John A. E. Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religions Affairs and Lands of Sri Lanka Askar Batalov, Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport of Kazakhstan and István Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism/Chair Tourism Task Force at the European Parliament.