The role of the tourism sector in contributing to sustainable development on a global scale was the central message delivered by UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili at the opening of ITB Berlin.
Speaking in the presence of German chancellor Angela Merkel, tourism ministers from around the world, and the leaders of the tourism sector, Pololikashvili stressed how tourism not only needs to consolidate current growth rates, but “to grow better”.
In 2017, international tourist numbers grew a record seven per cent to reach 1.3 billion.
UNWTO’s message underlines the need to turn these figures into benefits for all people and all communities.
“Leaving no one behind,” is the benchmark for true sustainability, said Pololikashvili, a message which must also decouple growth from resource use and place climate change response at the heart of the tourism sector’s agenda.
“Tourism’s sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development,” said the UNWTO secretary general, while warning at the same time that it also brings in many challenges.
“Adapting to the challenges of safety and security, constant market changes, digitalization and the limits of our natural resources should be priorities in our common action,” he added.
The UNWTO Secretary-General stressed education and job creation, innovation and technology, safety and security; and sustainability and climate change as the priorities for the sector to consolidate its contribution to sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, against the backdrop of its expansion in all world regions and the socio-economic impact this entails.