The Ministers' Summit was held at WTM London 2021

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The Ministers' Summit was held at WTM London 2021
Zurab Pololikashvili
Source: Reed Exhibitions Limited
November 03, 2021

The UNWTO Secretary General highlighted that the climate emergency is a greater threat than Covid-19


Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General, said the pandemic has affected tourism more than any other sector. Tourism needs the support of governments, through stronger public-private partnerships and through more financial and better targeted investments, to rebuild in a sustainable and inclusive way.

He made his remarks during the UNWTO, WTTC and WTM Ministerial Summit, held on the second day of WTM London, with tourism ministers from around the world discussing investing in the sustainable future of tourism.

"This summit gives us the opportunity to strengthen our advocacy for sustainability," said Pololikashvili.

He told delegates that the recent Rome Leaders' Declaration issued by the G20 specifically emphasized the need to restore travel and tourism, which in turn can help developing economies.

He said public investment will “encourage and leverage” private investment around the world, adding: “Tourism can benefit if governments provide adequate support.

This summit gives us the opportunity to strengthen our advocacy for sustainability.

"Going back to the old normal is not an option."

He also said that tourism represents a risk-free investment opportunity and highlighted the need to invest in education and youth on the way to net zero.

UNWTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and other stakeholders in tourism and travel will officially present the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 on Thursday (November 4th).

The WTTC also plans to launch the Net Zero Roadmap for Travel and Tourism, to help the industry combat climate change, as part of the sector's push towards net zero by 2050.

The initiative is carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and professional services and consulting experts Accenture.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the WTTC, said at the summit: “We have no alternative; we have to go green. "

He said sustainable growth is a key priority for the WTTC, adding: “Investors and the public demand that we invest to protect the planet and people.

"We need to invest to make sure that destinations are great places to live and not just great places to visit."

Nigel Huddleston MP, UK Tourism Minister, agreed, saying: "The partnership between the public and private sectors is consumer driven."

He said his government can offer tax incentives to encourage sustainable developments, such as deductions for solar energy and electric vehicle charging points.

Rita Marques, Portugal's Secretary of State for Tourism, described how her country is investing in ecological services and new ways to develop tourism throughout the seasons.

Massimo Garavaglia, the Italian Minister of Tourism, spoke about how Italy is tackling excessive tourism in places like Venice and Florence, to encourage visitors to explore other parts of Italy and its various attractions.

Dr. Khaled El-Enany, Egypt's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, who will host the COP27 climate conference next year, highlighted Egypt's sustainable initiatives, such as a project to protect the reefs of the Red Sea.

Memunatu Pratt, Sierra Leone's Minister of Tourism and Culture, spoke about how tourism in the West African country is recovering from the civil war and the Ebola and Covid-19 outbreaks.

He said investments in infrastructure, transportation, healthcare and education are being integrated with the need to develop sustainable tourism.

Federico González, CEO of Radisson Hotel Group, highlighted the need to ensure that smaller hotel owners understand how they make their properties more sustainable, and David Lavorel, CEO of airport technology firm SITA, described how the technology it can help the aviation industry optimize its current assets to be more environmentally friendly.

UNWTO will also partner with Arabian Travel Market, WTM London's sister event, taking place May 8-11 in Dubai.

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