UNWTO’S 24TH ASSEMBLY FOCUSES ON EDUCATION AND INNOVATION

The World Tourism Organisation has launched its 24th General Assembly in Spain, putting innovation and education at the heart of tourism’s restart.

More than 1,000 participants representing 135 countries have gathered in Madrid for the annual meeting which concludes on Friday.

The guest-list includes 84 ministers and vice ministers of tourism, international organisations, and leaders of the private sector and civil society.

Special emphasis has also been also placed on the importance of rural development and tourism’s role in inclusive growth, the theme of World Tourism Day 2021.

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili told attendees: “Guided by UNWTO, global tourism is facing up to the challenges of today while looking to the opportunities of tomorrow.

“The UNWTO General Assembly shows the sector’s determination to restart, lead recovery and be a central pillar of sustainable development and climate action.”

UNWTO General Assembly shows the sector’s determination to restart, lead recovery and be a central pillar of sustainable development and climate action

Delegates were first presented with the International Code for the Protection of Tourists, launched in response to the fall in consumer confidence during the pandemic.

This landmark legal code is designed to restore trust in international travel, providing minimum standards and consumer rights for tourists in emergency situations.

Once adopted by the General Assembly, the code will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in 2022 with the aim of making it a resolution.

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili
UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili

UNWTO affiliate members meet to reform and restart

Officials met on Tuesday for their 43rd annual plenary session, held within the framework of the General Assembly.

Participants were given an overview of the UNWTO’s crisis response. The destination tracker, developed by in partnership with the International Air Transport Association, was presented as an example of effective public-private partnerships.

Meanwhile, delegates approved the proposed reform of the legal framework for UNWTO affiliate membership, paving the way for more effective collaboration

Executive Council Endorses Key Initiatives

The executive council met for a 114th session when Mr Pololikashvili presented on the actions and new initiatives since it last met in 2019.

Members agreed to implement the programme for 2022 to 2023 and endorsed several key initiatives including recommendations on tourism for rural development, the best tourism villages project and the global tourism plastics initiative.

Also meeting in Madrid, experts came together to explore ways to advance the organisation’s

The committees on tourism and sustainability, on tourism and competitiveness and on tourism online education also came together to discuss key priority areas.

What is next?

UNWTO Executive Council Members will be selected for 2022 along with the dates and location of the next General Assembly with Egypt, Portugal and Uzbekistan all set to submit bids.

The Kingdom of Morocco was originally scheduled to host this year’s session but changing public health concerns meant it was unable to do so.

Members will also be updated on the opening of regional offices, including a first for the Middle East, to work alongside the secretariat in Madrid, Spain, and planned themes for World Tourism Day in both 2022 and 2023.

Other key items include the finals of the UNWTO students’ league, appointment of the Secretary-General for the period 2022-2025, and the winners of the Best Tourism Villages competition named.

Alongside this, and in line with UNWTO’s heightened emphasis on digital communications and visual storytelling, winners of the 2021 UNWTO Tourism Video Competition will also be announced in Madrid.

The initiative is aimed at recognising promotional videos that highlight the sector’s resilience and its contributions to the sustainable development goals.

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