“Once again, the World Tourism Organization is proud to be associated with this major national and international event that FITUR has become”, the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Francesco Frangialli, said during his key note speech of the FITUR international tourism fair in Madrid in the presence of H.M. King Juan Carlos I of Spain and H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain.The Secretary-General confirmed that last year world tourism entered a historically new phase of growth, which began three years ago. “In 2005, it broke through the barrier of 800 million international arrivals. Last year, it surpassed the 840 million mark.
This represents over 20 percent growth in the span of three years, equivalent to 150 million additional visitors”, he added. This development was accomplished despite the volatile price for oil or the weakening US dollar, among other factors.
As a social activity, tourism has changed and continues to transform itself under pressure from its environment. UNWTO stresses that it is increasingly apparent how tourism is falling victim—but also contributing—to climate change and the reduction of biodiversity. The path ahead is therefore marked by a different type of growth: more moderate, more solid and more responsible.
In that respect, Mr Frangialli concluded his inauguration speech by pointing out that “a heavier responsibility now lies on our shoulders, the responsibility to make this new phase of growth more economical in its use of energy and natural resources, more sustainable, and lastly, more in keeping with the spirit of solidarity”.
At FITUR, UNWTO confirmed that it will be holding this November its second major conference on “Tourism and Climate Change”, immediately prior to its General Assembly in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.