World tourism chief speaks out at SUR business forum

2016-07-11 08:00:00

The Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has spoken of the importance of tourism for global economic growth at a conference organised by SUR in Malaga.
Addressing a group of top Costa business leaders and politicians at the Málaga Palacio hotel, Taleb Rifai warned that the tourism sector is “undervalued and underused by governments who aren’t taking into account the important role it plays”.
“Tourism started 200 years ago with very rich people travelling around Europe. Now it’s mass market and society still hasn’t fully grasped this. People still associate a tourist with a person who goes to the beach. That’s why we have to emphasise the jobs tourism creates and the greater tolerance it spreads,” Rifai explained.
Wednesday’s ‘Lidera Málaga’ (Lead Malaga) event was organised jointly by SUR newspaper and the Diputación de Málaga provincial government and was part of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations for the iconic Malaga Palacio hotel. The UNWTO, the UNbody responsible for global tourism policy, is based in Madrid and has 160 member countries and more than 480 affiliated organisations.
Rifai also made special mention of the future potential of the Costa del Sol, especially as a year-round resort. “This is an even more attractive destination in the winter season,” he enthused. He went on to explain the three challenges facing the tourism sector on a global level;use of technology, security and environmental sustainability.
Future challenges
Commenting that too many jobs in the sector are still temporary or low paid, he added, “Tourism has done many good things, but it possibly hasn’t created the best type of jobs which it really needs to be doing.”Pointing out that experts predict that there will be 1.8 billion annual tourist trips worldwide by 2030, he said that, along with technology, tourism was one of the forces changing the world. He urged the professionals present at the event to use new technology to create a special relationship with their clients.
On the subject of security, Rifai pointed out that nowhere was immune from terrorism and that to combat the threat it was important to join forces and quickly restore confidence in terrorist-hit destinations, citing Turkey as an example.
In terms of environmental sustainability, the secretary-general explained that action was needed and that tourism should be used to educate people. Next year will be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism he reminded the audience.
During the following question and answer session, Rifai expressed his disappointment at the UK’s Brexit vote, saying the UNWTO was saddened as it was in favour of a better connected world. Nonetheless, he felt there would be no impact as Britons would still keep travelling.
READ MORE: Tourists will bring a record 5.9 billion euros to the province this summer.source surinenglish