World Travel Market has hosted the UNWTO Ministers’ Summit on Tourism and Climate Change with more than 100 Ministers asked to urgently consider and ratify a declaration recommended by environmental experts at UNWTO’s Davos summit in October.WTM’s summit was vital because this Ministerial Declaration will be put to the UNWTO’s General Assembly at the end of November and will be a major aspect of the organization’s submission to the United Nations Bali Climate Summit in December 2007.
UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli commented, “The world community has charged the United Nations with framing a strategic response to the challenge of climate change, coherent with the Millennium Development Goals. Tourism is a central part of our society, our economic progress and our contribution to the war on poverty. This meeting will put a Ministerial seal on the Davos Declaration - our commitment that Tourism will be at the leading edge of the global response to climate change.”
Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of WTM addressed the summit and said, “World Travel Market introduced its Ministers’ Programme three years ago because we felt that it was critically important to recognise the valuable contribution of Ministers in global travel and tourism.”
Jeffery continued, “It’s your strategies, investment and supreme influence that assists and expands an industry that is never out of the international spotlight and, let us never forget, is a major driver of world economies.”
She then went on to push the message on climate change, explaining, “Collectively and individually the industry can no longer afford to ignore climate change and it’s clear that we need to play our part in a global struggle to address perhaps one of the most difficult challenges we’ve ever faced.”
Jeffery emphasised the need for urgent action and added, “The responsibility on you today is to send out a message to help the industry understand the seriousness of the situation that confronts us and the unquestionable need for a universal approach”
World Travel Market has some pedigree in this area with its Environmental Awareness Day and latterly Responsible Tourism Day. As Jeffery put it, “we’ve battled to make the green movement an established part of the industry agenda.”
It is clear that the battle to get environmental questions onto the agenda is being largely won but it remains to be seen whether the industry can yet provide meaningful answers.