Working together to ensure that global policies are supportive of the sustainable growth of tourism and position travel and tourism as one industry speaking with one voice were some of the challenges highlighted by UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, speaking on the occasion of the opening of this year’s ITB Travel Trade Show (Berlin, Germany, March 10-14, 2010).
ITB 2010 kicks off as the tourism industry is starting to leave behind one of the most difficult years of its history, after international tourist arrivals fell by 4 percent in 2009, while earnings are estimated to have fallen by approximately 6 percent.
The return of growth to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009 and the first results from January 2010 suggest that recuperation is underway. In this framework, UNWTO forecasts a growth of 3 percent to 4 percent in international tourist arrivals for 2010.
“Though there are positive signs emerging from the global economy, we all recognize that recovery is still weak, uneven, easily reversible, and that many downside risks remain,” said Mr. Rifai. “It is, therefore, key to devise ways for tourism to be well positioned in any new economic cycle,” he added.
At the same time, Mr. Rifai highlighted the lessons learned from the UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery process: countries which were quick in reacting to and implementing measures to mitigate the crisis have seen that their initiatives have made a difference.
He also recalled that “tourism can rapidly create jobs” inviting the sector to consider a “collective initiative that stimulates the preservation and creation of decent jobs and qualifies human resources to be part of the transformation to the green economy.”
In considering the roots of the still persisting challenges, Mr. Rifai said, “It seems that our global economic order and our global ecological balance are both challenged at the same time.” He added, “The entire development model of the last 60 years seems to be unsustainable and in question.”
Against this backdrop, UNWTO secretary-general underscored that “recent developments have revealed some of the structural weaknesses of our sector, both within the private and the public realms.”
“There is clearly a need to revisit our business models in order to master innovation and technology as much as there is a need to develop comprehensive, clear, and strong public policies. We cannot build a meaningful public-private partnership without strong, healthy, and identifiable national public policies on travel and tourism,” he concluded.
Read the full speech at: http://www.unwto.org/pdf/ITB2010EN.pdf .
UNWTO welcomes the Outcome of the First T.20 Ministers’ Meeting in South Africa: www.unwto.org/media/news/en/press_det.php?id=5661 .
Roadmap for Recovery: www.unwto.org/pdf/roadmap_EN.pdf .
Contact number during ITB: + (34) 620 729 731.