What UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili told German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the ITB Opening event

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UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili last night spoke at the opening of the ITB in Berlin.

This is a transcript of his speech:

Chancellor Merkel,
Governing Mayor Müller,
Dr. Frenzel,
Dr. Goeke,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Guten Abend.

It is an honour to be with you today.
I wish to thank ITB for its continuous contribution to the development of the tourism sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We gather at a time when a record number of tourists are travelling around the world.
International tourist arrivals grew by 7% in 2017, to reach 1.3 billion. This is an all-time record.
Today, 10% of the world’s GDP, 10% of the world’s jobs, and 7% of the world’s total exports come from tourism.
These are naturally very good news for our economies and our societies.
Yet, besides consolidating the growth of our sector, we need to grow better.
We need to turn these big figures into benefits to all people and all communities, leaving no one behind.
We need to decouple growth from resource use. Place Climate Change at the heart of our agenda.
We need to use the power of technology to make tourism smarter, more competitive and more responsible.
We need to make tourism a leading sector in the road to 2030 and the achievement of our common goals – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I took office only two months ago.
It is with a sense of pride and humility that I assume my post as Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization for the period 2018-2021.
Tourism’s sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development.
Yet, it also brings in many challenges.
Adapting our sector to the challenges of safety and security, to constant market changes, to digitalization and the limits of our natural resources should be priorities in our common action.

In this vein, I propose that we as a sector stand together to address the following priorities:
1. Education and Job creation
2. Innovation and technology
3. Safety and Security; and
4. Sustainability and Climate Change

To do so we need to:
1. Embrace a digital tourism sector
2. Adapt to new business models
3. Better manage tourism growth
Someone said there is no “overtourism, only under management”
4. Invest in education and skills development

Dear Friends
Ladies and gentlemen,
If we are to address these issues we have to strengthen public/private cooperation as well as public/public coordination.
I wish to promote what I would call a tourism alliance:

• between ministries,
• local administrations,
• private sector,
• technology partners,
• and so many others on the wide-reaching tourism value chain.

UNWTO is ready to support and work with you to make this happen.
Together we can translate tourism growth into more investment, more jobs and better livelihoods.
Together we can make tourism a sector that protects our environment, our cultures and our people.
As Chancellor Merkel said addressing the tourism industry leaders last year, “you are all development helpers”.
We count on your support and partnership and look forward to working together for a more competitive and responsible tourism sector.

Thank you.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.