At a global level the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector has emerged as one of the 21st Century’s critical drivers of economic growth, job creation and development of communities, regions and nations. The ‘Tourism Economy’, a vital source of employment, revenue, investment, trade and unity, has recently been recognised as a powerful stimulus for recovery from the global economic crisis.
As a reflection of the importance of the T&T sector to unlock the growth potential of nations, and the role of major sporting, business and cultural events to re-inspire tourists to travel to global destinations, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the South African Government have announced that the T&T world’s first international Tourism, Sport and Mega-events Summit will be held in Sandton, South Africa from February 24th – 26th 2010.
The summit will provide a forum for active discussion, debate and direction around the leverage of mega-events as a vital force for sector growth and advancement in national development strategies.
A number of major global events will be held in 2010, including the FIFA World Cup in South Africa; the Commonwealth Games in India; the World Exhibition in Shanghai, China; and the Winter Games in Canada. With this taken into consideration, the UNWTO seeks to align the global T&T sector’s leadership to create a framework for leveraging sport and other mega-events (including cultural and entertainment events, exhibitions and business conventions) for economic growth. This process must take into account the economic, social and environmental consequences for host nations, and the massive multimedia opportunities for nation branding and export promotion.
South Africa’s Department of Tourism and Department of Sport, as well as CNN International as global media partner, will be working in partnership with the UNWTO.
“South Africa is proud to be working with the UNWTO in the creation and hosting of the UNWTO’s inaugural Tourism, Sport and Mega-events Summit in 2010”, said South African Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at the announcement of the summit. “We know that we, as a developing country, cannot afford to have underutilised infrastructure after the World Cup, and we understand that we must plan ahead to make sure our infrastructure and skills investments do not go to waste.”
As stated by Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO: “This important meeting reflects the increasing economic and social impacts of sport, mega-events and tourism. It will establish new lines of thinking on operations, economics and sustainability. We are delighted to be working with South Africa - particularly in 2010 which will see a great sporting megaevent in the FIFA World Cup, which promises so much for Africa.”
The summit will be held parallel to the annual Meetings Africa, Africa’s top business tourism exhibition hosted annually by South African Tourism.