“Tourism Enriches” was at the centre of the
UNWTO Think Tank hosted by Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, Bernardo
Trindade, on the occasion of the United Nations« World Tourism Day. Officials,
experts and entrepreneurs from Europe, the Americas and the Middle East gathered in
Lisbon to discuss the opportunities and challenges for tourism as a leading socio
The Think Tank key conclusions:
—Tourism represents 40% of all exports of services; revenues have grown far
stronger than international trade.
—Tourism has spin-off effects ranging from construction over to agriculture or
telecommunications, creating quality employment for developing countries.
—Tourism has to be included in the policy and development agenda of governments,
donors and financing institutions.
Investing in tourism infrastructure, information communications technology (ICT) and
education can create long term employment which benefits local communities.
Governments and development agencies need to become aware of this added value chain
provided by tourism. Only then tourism will be included as a strategic element in
policies targeting job creation, sustainability and poverty alleviation.
On a socio-cultural level, tourism can promote a culture of peace and understanding
thanks to direct contacts between visitors and host communities “How can we feel
enmity towards someone we know personally; someone whom we have received or who has
received us”, asks UNWTO Secretary General Francesco Frangialli.
The participants endorsed the view that the linkage of tourism and ICT as catalytic
sectors could provide significant leverage in managing growth and bridging the
UNWTO has recently initiated a long term partnership with Microsoft Corporation to
expand ICT in the tourism sector, providing ICT systems and tools for emerging
tourism economies to improve their export competitiveness, product quality and
support skills. Its primary focus will be on Africa.
Tourism outgrows the rest
The consolidation of tourism over the past decades “constitutes one of the most
positive socio-economic developments of our time”, says Francesco Frangialli.
International tourist arrivals grew from 25 million in 1950 to 808 million in 2005.
This expansion rate by 6,5% “continues unabated and there is no evidence of
saturation of demand despite wars, terror, tsunamis and other crises” he adds.
The revenues generated by these arrivals have risen at an average rate of 11.2% per
year (adjusted for inflation) over the same span of time, outgrowing the world
economy as a whole. In 2005 international tourism receipts reached 682 billion
dollars - more than 800 billion when airline tickets are included. This trade volume
equals or exceeds that of oil exports, food products, or even cars.
Therefore tourism represents 40% of all exports of services, making it one of the
largest categories of international trade. There is more potential which could
benefit poor countries and UNWTO is working with the World Trade Organization to
support broad scale liberalization of the sector. “Non trade and non economic
obstacles are the real challenge”, Frangialli stresses.
Some 75 countries are using the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), which reflects the
economic contribution of tourism, ranging from GDP to job creation.
The TSA is a resource for public, tourism and development authorities, as well as
private investors. It is a tool “to gain real credibility”, Francesco Frangialli
explains. “Tourism’s image will change and, with the new perception of it, those who
champion its cause will have a better chance of being heard and of having their
legitimate needs satisfied”.
Currently, the International Monetary Fund is preparing to take the TSA into account
in balance of payments data; while discussions are underway with the International
Labour Organization to factor it into job creation strategies.
...for a new perception
The perception of tourism has to evolve towards the corporate identity of a robust
and sustainable sector. Tourism is in fact one of the fastest growing sectors in the
world and can provide longstanding and high quality employment.
Too little research is yet done on the linkages which demonstrate the economic
multiplier effect of tourism. Decision makers at all levels have to understand the
economic and socio-cultural benefits of tourism. This will help establishing
public-private partnerships to finance and promote sustainable tourism initiatives
in developing countries.
The broad acceptance of the UNWTO-TSA will reflect the economic weight of tourism
and support its recognition as a sector alongside other economic sectors. This will
help in putting tourism explicitly on the policy and development agenda of
governments and financing institutions.
In summing up the results of the Think Tank, Secretary of State Bernardo Trindade
concluded that “UNWTO must continue its drive to ensure that tourism is a strategic
priority for economic growth and sociocultural development and it has a unique role
in this context as a specialized UN agency working on an inter-governmental level
and with a record of successful public-private partnerships”.
Participants included: Francesco Frangialli (UNWTO Secretary-General); Bernardo
Trindade (Secretary of State for Tourism for Portugal); Zdenko Micic (State
Secretary for Tourism, Ministry of Sea, Tourism, Transport and Development,
Croatia); Marcio Favilla (Executive Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Brazil); Peter
Keller (Head of Tourism Service, Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs,
Switzerland); Germán Porras (Former Tourism Secretary General of Spain); David
McMillan [CEO, International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH&RA)]; Roger Dow
(CEO, Travel Industry Association of America, USA); Andrés Contreras (Subdirector
General of Cooperation and tourism Coordination, Ministry of Industry, Tourism and
Commerce, Spain); Sean O’Hara (Executive Director, BBC World); Jan Poul de Boer
(Qatar Tourism Authority); Martin Brackenbury (President, International Federation
of Tour Operators (IFTO); Paul Hengeveld (Director UN Programs, Microsoft
Corporation); Carlos Vogeler (Chairm
an of the UNWTO Affiliate Members); John Turato [Chairman, OpenTravel Alliance
(OTA)]. The Think Tank was moderated by Geoffrey Lipman (UNWTO, Assistant