The hosting of the UNWTO 17th General Assembly in Cartagena de Indias sends out a strong signal for all of Colombia’s tourism, Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.Standing alongside the country’s president, Dr. çlvaro Uribe Vélez, he said that holding the meeting demonstrated that Colombia is “a country that is attractive, open and welcoming, and where visitors from all over the world can come with total peace of mind and safety.”
UNWTO felt doubly at home in Cartagena, “a treasure of humanity’s world heritage, and a historical point of linkage between Spain, where our Institution is based, and the Americas.”
It is “a vibrant and colourful community that is open to the world and to a mix of populations, cultures and music,” that had already hosted UNWTO’s Executive Council in 1986.
In return UNWTO was proud to have supported, through numerous activities, the rapid development of tourism in Colombia, which was now a destination that had surpassed the one-million mark in annual international visitor arrivals.
Apart from its own meetings in the Americas, the Organization had also been working closely with the Iberoamerican General Secretariat, carrying out activities in many countries of the continent, he added.
Cartagena’s Mayor, Nicolas Curi, said it was a great honour to welcome guests to what was one of the most important events to be hosted by the city.
He especially praised President Uribe for “the support he has always given to the development of tourism in Cartagena.”
“He encourages us to keep working in an activity that provides immense opportunities for people, that stimulates education, training and the labour skills of the most needy sectors. ”
As Colombia’s leading destination, the city was continuing to develop and would soon start work on the first hotels to be built on nearby Barœ, “taking into account the preservation of the natural resources and the rational use of the beauty of this island.”
“Our success will depend on the balance we have to keep to maintain sustainable development,.” he added.
While the Assembly brings together “the creativity of world leaders in one of the sectors that is transforming the world, ” he hoped visitors would also have time to enjoy the music and gastronomy of this “hospitable city of good and friendly people. “