Member States of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have firmly aligned themselves with its leadership and vision for the sector. Gathering for the 24th General Assembly in Madrid, Spain, members from all regions of the world endorsed the Organization’s work program and endorsed key initiatives designed to create more resilient, inclusive and sustainable tourism.
The General Assembly brought together more than 1,000 delegates from 135 countries, including 84 tourism ministers as well as business leaders, destinations and representatives of key international organizations. Opening the General Assembly, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili cited the spirit of solidarity and determination that has defined tourism’s response to an unprecedented crisis. In presenting his report to members, he made it clear how the focus on collaboration and harmonization of protocols, political advocacy and securing financial support for tourism, helped the sector to mitigate impacts. pandemic and laid the groundwork for restarting tourism in many regions. from the country.
Support from the UN and the international community
Mr Pololikashvili said: “In every region of the world, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of our sector – for economic growth, for jobs and trade, and for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. We need to make the most of this opportunity – turn goodwill into concrete support. “
Emphasizing the importance of the General Assembly, as well as the high stature of UNWTO on the global agenda, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed delegates and called on them to work together for a “green, inclusive and sustainable” future. Mr. Guterres added: “I congratulate UNWTO and Secretary General Pololikashvili and hope that the decisions taken in the General Assembly will help restore confidence in travel and move the world forward in safety so that developing economies can reap the benefits of sustainable tourism.
The words of support from the Secretary-General of the United Nations were echoed by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, by Rebeca Greenspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD), by Juan Carlos Salazar Gómez, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and by the Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas.
In addition to receiving an update on UNWTO’s activities since the last General Assembly two years ago, Members have also benefited from a comprehensive overview of the latest tourism trends, as shown by the latest data from the ‘OMT, as well as an updated overview of worldwide travel restrictions. From the Assembly Hall, members from different parts of the world expressed their solidarity with countries affected by the continued imposition of travel restrictions. Also in Madrid, Member States voted in person to approve the appointment by the UNWTO Executive Council of Mr. Pololikashvili as Secretary General for a second term. With the strong favorable vote, Mr. Pololikashvili will lead the UNWTO from 2022 to 2025.
UNWTO again welcomes royal endorsement
On the eve of the General Assembly, His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain praised the “exceptional work” of the UNWTO at the head of world tourism, especially during the last 18 months during the worst crisis of the history of the sector. At a special royal gala dinner, Her Majesty also underlined the importance of tourism for economies and societies, both in Spain and globally, making the recovery of the sector essential for many millions of people.
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