Tourism: a global force for growth and development
The World Tourism Organization met for the 110th Session of its Executive Board and welcomed the participation of the United States as it explored the possibility of rejoining
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) met in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the 110th Session of its Executive Council (June 16-18). At the meeting, Member States endorsed the progress and future plans of the Organization, as described in the Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili, and welcomed the participation of the United States while exploring the possibility of rejoining the UNWTO.
As international tourist arrivals grew by 4% during the first quarter of 2019, after a growth of 6% in 2018, the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism met in Azerbaijan for the 110th session of its executive council. The Council brings together the Member States of the UNWTO to hold high-level talks on the orientation of the global tourism sector.
"It is an immense pleasure to be in the dynamic city of Baku for the 110th meeting of our Executive Board," said Mr. Pololikashvili. "The Executive Council offers UNWTO Member States a complete picture of the activities and progress of UNWTO during the previous year, and makes key recommendations on the way forward. Our time in Baku offered us the perfect opportunity to discuss the challenges presented by the continuous increase in the number of tourists, including through the creation of more and better jobs and the promotion of gender equality. "I thank all member states for their commitment to the UNWTO mandate and I thank the United States for its presence and openness to the possibility of meeting and working with us to make tourism an engine of growth and equality."
Mr. Fuad Nagiyev, Chief of the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, expressed his support for the UNWTO mission, noting that it was "an honor" that the country had been chosen to host the 110th Session of the Executive Council.
"UNWTO events, including this Executive Council, are great platforms to promote the potential of tourism and to establish and develop good working relationships with UNWTO and its member states," added Mr. Nagiyev.
Fulfilling the UNWTO vision of tourism as a force for good
The member states welcomed the progress made in the work of the UNWTO to meet the current management vision. More specifically, the Five Priorities that support Secretary General Pololikashvili's mandate include making tourism more intelligent through innovation and digital transformation and increasing competition and entrepreneurship within the sector. At the same time, making tourism an important source of more and better jobs, and a superior provider of education and training is another of UNWTO's priorities.
The Member States that met in Baku were informed about the progress made to make tourism more inclusive, without interruptions and a means to safeguard and promote social and cultural heritage and environmental sustainability. In addition, the progress made in the recently launched 'UNWTO Agenda for Africa 2030' was well received. The bold four-year plan aims to harness the potential of tourism for Africa, with a special focus on tourism as a driver of poverty alleviation, job creation and professional development.
Institutional rationalization and financial sustainability
The Executive Board also endorsed the latest positive financial results and structural reforms implemented within the framework of the Secretary-General, reflecting the ongoing campaign to ensure the Organization's economic sustainability.
At the institutional level, the UNWTO reiterated its commitment to diversity and transparency. The Organization is making progress in the creation of a new Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics. This Convention brings UNWTO in line with most other UN agencies, and will specifically provide member states with clear guidelines for their national tourism sectors to boost growth and inclusion.
The meeting in Baku was held as UNWTO prepares for the 23rd session of its General Assembly, to be held in September in the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg.