‘Seamless travel vital for sustainable tourism’
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Madrid - Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), has once again appealed for international travellers to be able to enjoy “safe and seamless” travel.
The UNWTO head office in Madrid on Wednesday distributed a speech Rifai made at the opening of the 50th edition of the ITB Berlin travel show on Tuesday, in which he expressed the need for tourism to be used as a tool for sustainable development.
Rifai asked nations to “step up the efforts to advance policies and business strategies that ensure the contribution of the tourism sector to the Sustainable Development Goals”, adding that greater tourism was not a threat to the planet, it was an important development tool.
“Climate change mitigation, effective resource management, poverty reduction and inclusive growth need to be at the centre of tourism development. We must make it clear that economic growth and sustainability are not at odds,” he declared.
The UNWTO Secretary General said the role tourism plays in many developing nations made it necessary for the sector “to play a bigger role in national development, particularly at the highest levels of political decision-making.”
He also made an appeal for governments to do everything to try and make travel as easy as possible, despite security issues and the ongoing refugee crisis affecting Europe.
“The security challenges we face today should not prompt us to build new walls ... enhancing security and enabling more seamless travel should always go hand-in-hand,” he said. “We need to cooperate, not isolate,” insisted Rifai.
2015 saw the number of international travelers rise by 4.4 percent to 1.2 billion and the UNWTO leader was optimistic that “despite increased volatility and uncertainty, 2016 will bring another year of growth to our sector, with an estimated increase of four percent.”