Tourism is proving to be one of the most resilient sectors and can be a strategic vector in the way forward, as global economic conditions continue to deteriorate. This is among the main conclusions of UNWTO’s European member states meeting held in Baku, Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 49th UNWTO Commission for Europe.
European destinations are already taking measures to mitigate the negative impact of the economic situation on tourism, which is expected to last until 2010. Demand-driving measures already implemented range from reinforced promotion, to fiscal incentives and credit facilitation.
The Minister of Tourism and Culture of Azerbaijan, Aboulfaz Garayev, said: “This is not a tourism crisis but one that tourism can help to overcome. Tourism is still one of the most resilient economic activities, and as such, the sector can play a special role in the recovery of world and national economies, in particular in Europe.”
The UNWTO secretary general, ad interim, Taleb Rifai, stressed that crises can be considered an opportunity to act strategically. He called on all European stakeholders to join the recently launched UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery.
While international tourism worldwide is projected to stagnate or even decline by 2 percent, the participants in the Regional Commission expect that arrivals to European destinations might experience a 3 percent negative growth.
Against this background, nearby markets are expected to respond better to stimulus packages, which have to adapt to changing demand patterns, while not loosing sight of long-term challenges posed by competitiveness and sustainability objectives. International cooperation is to be reinforced and protectionist temptations should be avoided.
UNWTO’s European members underscore that tourism is one of the most resilient economic activities and can, therefore, play a key role in economic recovery, particularly in Europe. Governments should hence put tourism in the core of their stimulus packages and actively include tourism in their transversal policies.
UNWTO will continue to (a) monitor market behavior and foster best practices; (b) maintain its leadership in tourism policy and governance; and
(3) reinforce tourism as a key engine for employment, sustainable growth, and infrastructure creation.
Europe is the world’s leading international tourist destination: 500 million arrivals (53 percent of the world’s total) generating US$434 million and generating an even more significant volume of domestic tourist arrivals.