UNWTO call to position tourism as a policy priority
In 2017, international tourist arrivals grew by 7% reaching 1,322 million. 2017 was the eighth consecutive year of sustained growth following the 2009 global economic and financial crisis. No comparable sequence of uninterrupted solid growth has been recorded since the 1960s. UNWTO call to position tourism as a « policy priority« .
Tourism is an important driver of economic growth and development, with significant impact on job creation, investment, development of infrastructure, and the promotion of social inclusion. As one of the world’s key sectors of trade in services – tourism was the third bigger export-earning category, after fuels and chemicals in 2016 – the sector is a vital pillar for national export strategies and economic diversification.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili took office in January 2018. He presented the Organization’s management vision and priorities at the 108th session of the Executive Council, held on 23-25 May 2018 in San Sebastián, Spain. The management vision emphasizes the need to make tourism smarter, more competitive and more responsible towards the goal of establishing the sector as key for the 2030 Agenda. In line with this, the management proposes 5 key priorities:
- innovation and digital transformation;
- investments and entrepreneurship;
- education and employment;
- safe, secure and seamless travel;
- and social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
Make tourism smarter: innovation and the digital transformation
(a) Connect and scale up the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems of UNWTO Member States by bringing together the key stakeholders, including governments, academia, corporations, SMEs and start-ups, investors (business and super business angels, venture capital, etc.) and business development partners (accelerators, incubators, etc.) in order to boost innovation and entrepreneurship.
(b) Create a UNWTO Innovation Hub where the most disruptive tourism start-ups worldwide will have the opportunity to be inspired by Tourism Innovation Leaders, meet corporations and investors and learn from highly technical workshops on how to scale and go global. UNWTO Member States will also have the opportunity to launch national Tourism innovation challenges at the Hub.
(c) Create a Tourism Innovation Leaders community.
(d) Organize innovation forums dedicated to tourism aimed at bringing together all the actors of the ecosystem to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and investment in tourism.
(e) Foster innovation in product development and marketing.
(f) Advance smart destinations through the development of guidelines, models and sharing of good practices.
(g) Produce strategic content and facilitate capacity building on innovation and digitalization in tourism, which will enable UNWTO Member States to take smarter decisions concerning the use of technologies for tourism development and will provide them with an understanding of the current social trends and customer needs.
Position tourism as a policy priority
Ensuring that the tourism sector is a major force for sustainable development requires a holistic and integrated policy framework and an effective and accountable system of governance that enable and encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration in tourism planning, development and management. This entails strengthening policies and governance structures to ensure a resilient and well-defined framework and implementation of sustainable tourism development strategies.
The shift from commitment to actions and results can only be achieved if tourism moves from the periphery to the core of decision-making in both the public and private domains allowing for a truly national, cross-cutting approach to the sector.
In that sense, UNWTO Executive Council propose:
(a) To advocate for the inclusion of tourism as a priority in national, regional and international agendas;
(b) To promote cross-cutting government coordination for tourism development; and
(c) To build better policies and institutions. Lead in knowledge creation and policy.
Source: UNWTO Executive Council, 108th session San Sebastián, Spain, 23-25 May 2018.
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