King of Spain Signals Strong Support for UNWTO Tourism Ambitions

King of Spain Signals Strong Support for UNWTO Tourism Ambitions

Madrid (Spain) – February 3, 2020 (travelindex.com) – His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain joined the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for a special gala dinner in Madrid last night, further strengthening the support and commitment of Spain to sustainable tourism development.

Held to mark the 40th anniversary of FITUR, one of the world’s leading tourism trade fair and the first one to be held every year, the dinner also saw Ministers from around the world join public and private sector leaders to celebrate tourism’s status as a key pillar of the global sustainable development agenda.

This is the first time UNWTO and FITUR have hosted a royal dinner and comes just weeks after UNWTO and the Government of Spain ensured tourism was part of the conversation at the COP25 UN Climate Summit, also held in Madrid.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, thanked His Majesty and the Government of Spain for their strong commitment to UNWTO’s mission: “Your presence is an inspiration and a further reminder of our shared responsibility to continue improving tourism for the benefit of all. UNWTO is privileged to be based in Spain, a true world leader in tourism, and Madrid is also home to FITUR, a platform that brings tourism leaders together every year and sets the international agenda for our sector and its role in the world”.

HRH King Felipe VI commended UNWTO on its work to place tourism at the centre of sustainable development, adding Spain is proud to host the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and inclusive tourism.

He said: “The tourism sector is a source of wealth and employment, it is a tool for social cohesion, for the consolidation of the population, for fighting against climate change and inequality; It is an accelerator in the achievement of the SDGs and digital transformation.”

Also yesterday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced his support for UNWTO’s plans to host a Global Tourism Forum. “The Davos of tourism”, as Mr Sánchez labeled it, will have its first edition in the final months of this year. This event shows the commitment of UNWTO’s host country to fostering tourism for sustainable development, underscoring the sector’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda against the backdrop of the Decade for Action, with just ten remaining years to achieve the Agenda’s Global Goals.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is ground-breaking and ambitious in its goals. It aims to reduce the amount of plastic pollution caused by the tourism sector. To achieve this vision, tourism companies and destinations will be required to make a set of concrete and actionable commitments by 2025, including to:

Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items by 2025;
Take action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives by 2025;
Engage the value chain to move towards 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable;  Take action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used;  Commit to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics;  Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is a unique opportunity for tourism companies and destinations to step forward and lead the global effort addressing plastic pollution. Frontrunning tourism companies and destinations will set quantifiable targets as part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and accelerate the transformation of the tourism sector towards more integrated solutions and circular business models.”

The Initiative is a key activity of the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the One Planet Network and it acts as the interface for the tourism sector of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The New Plastics Economy Programme Manager Gerald Naber said: “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites more than 450 businesses, governments and others behind a clear vision of a circular economy for plastics. We welcome the launch of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by UNEP and UNWTO, which unites the tourism sector behind this vision for a world in which plastic never becomes waste or pollution. It will be a challenging journey, but through concerted action, we can eliminate the plastics we don’t need and innovate, so the plastics we do need can be safely and easily circulated – keeping them in the economy and out of the environment.”

The Director of UN Environment’s Economy Division Director, Ms. Ligia Noronha, added: “Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of our time, and tourism has an important role to play in contributing to the solution. Through the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, tourism companies and destinations are supported so they can innovate, eliminate and circulate the way they use plastics.”

About the One Planet network Sustainable Tourism Programme
The One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme has the overall objective to enhance the sustainable development impacts of the tourism sector by 2030, by developing, promoting and scaling up sustainable consumption and production practices that boost the efficient use of natural resources while producing less waste and addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity. The Sustainable Tourism Programme is part of the One Planet network, a multi-stakeholder partnership to implement SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

About the UN Environment Programme
The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation, the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, putting the circular economy on the agenda of decision-makers around the world. The charity’s work focuses on seven key areas: insight and analysis; business; institutions, governments, and cities; systemic initiatives; circular design; learning; and communications.

About the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment
The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites businesses, governments, and other organisations behind a common vision and targets to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. Signatories include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, as well as governments, NGOs, universities, industry associations, investors, and other organisations. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme.

The role of tourism in the new European Green Deal was highlighted at the FITUR trade fair. On the back of the recent launch of the Green Deal, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) invited Ministers of Tourism from across Europe and representatives from the European Parliament and the European Travel Commission (ETC) to Madrid for a high-level conversation on the vital role the tourism sector will play if the ambitious sustainability goals are to be met.

The Green Deal will form an integral part of the Commission’s strategy to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals and pledges to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Recognizing the role that tourism will play in achieving this, UNWTO used the occasion of FITUR to provide a platform for EU and non-EU stakeholders, including representatives from both the public and private sectors. Established at the start of a new five-year period for the European Commission, this platform will advocate for tourism to be a central part of the Green Deal.

The tourism sector has an obligation to use its unique power to lead the response to the climate emergency and ensure responsible growth.

 UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The tourism sector has an obligation to use its unique power to lead the response to the climate emergency and ensure responsible growth. UNWTO is committed to accelerating progress towards low carbon emission tourism, and I am delighted to see that, in this regard, UNWTO and the European Commission are on the same page.

The Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, the country that hosts UNWTO, Isabel Oliver, added: “A more prominent presence in the political structure of the European Union would allow the importance of tourism to be put on the agenda as a lever to achieve the challenges that European policy has identified, including the Green Deal.

The FITUR event also provided a platform for Croatia, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, to present its priorities for tourism. Frano Matusic, Secretary of State for Tourism of Croatia, addressed his fellow Ministers and public and private sector leaders, highlighting his country’s commitment to sustainability and low-carbon growth.

Mr. Matusic, said: “Tourism is a significant economic factor in the world GDP, but at the same time it affects the preservation of cultural heritage, the environment, the labor market, infrastructure, etc. As these challenges are common to all Member States, it is important to address these issues in a systematic manner at the both European and global level. Implementation and promotion of sustainable development policies are the backbone of Croatia’s EU Council Presidency in the field of tourism, and Croatia will therefore continue to strengthen its co-operation initiative precisely to ensure tourism’s success in the future.

According to the latest UNWTO data, the EU28 Member States received 577 million international tourists in 2019, a 3% increase on the previous year. In 2018, receipts generated by international tourism generated 407 billion euros across all 28 states, around 33% of the world total. The UNWTO data also shows that Europe continues to be the leading global region for tourist numbers, welcoming 51% of all arrivals in 2019.

The role of tourism and investment in African development took centre stage at the FITUR trade fair in Madrid this week as sector leaders joined the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the 11th edition of INVESTOUR (Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa) which saw the participation of over 20 African Ministers and Heads of delegations.

Supported by Casa Africa (Representing the Spanish Government), the International Tourism Fair of Madrid (FITUR) as UNWTO’s official partners and in collaboration with Côte D’Ivoire, this latest meeting of Investour focused on the continent’s potential on creative industries as well as on the potential benefits of diversifying the tourism sector, in particular as a means of driving rural development. Against the backdrop of FITUR, the round table discussion explored the untapped potential of gastronomy tourism and the growing African fashion industry, particularly with regards to attracting international tourists. In addition, a session was also dedicated to the presentation of 10 projects aiming at the development of tourism in various countries in Africa, such as South Africa, Zambia, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire.

The creative industries, including a thriving fashion industry, culture and gastronomy are all increasingly relevant ‘pull factors’

The forum came on the back of the UNWTO General Assembly unanimously approving its Agenda for Africa 2030, a roadmap and strategic framework for tourism for sustainable development and inclusive growth. At the same time, the 11th edition of INVESTOUR was held during UNWTO’s Year of Tourism and Rural Development, with this theme the main focus of discussions between tourism leaders from both the public and private sectors.

Opening INVESTOUR 2020, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The creative industries, including a thriving fashion industry, culture and gastronomy are all increasingly relevant ‘pull factors’. They are encouraging visitors to see another side to Africa. Investment in these sectors will pay dividends, not just for investors themselves but, equally or more important, also for African society as a whole.

Also during FITUR, UNWTO released its latest data on international tourist numbers and trends. The data shows that international arrivals to African destinations reached 71 million in 2019 and grew by 4% when compared with the previous year. This trend is expected to continue over the years ahead, and UNWTO has stated its commitment to supporting its African destinations grow their tourism sectors responsibly and sustainably. Next month, Côte d´Ivoire will host the 1st UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum in Africa, a landmark event for the continent and its tourism sector.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is closely monitoring developments related to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), both in China and worldwide and is cooperating closely with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since the very start of the emergency, the Chinese authorities have acted swiftly and decisively. UNWTO expresses its solidarity with the Chinese people, its government and its tourism sector at these challenging times.

In recent years, China has emerged as a true global tourism leader, both as a source market and as a leading destination in itself, providing livelihoods for millions of people across the country. And tourism will offer a valuable lifeline as China recovers and rebuilds from this setback, just as the sector has proven its resilience many times before.

The responsibility of tourism

During times of crisis, tourism has to live up to its responsibility as an integral part of wider society. The sector must put people and their wellbeing first.

The cooperation of the tourism sector will be vital in stopping the spread of the virus and limiting its impact on people and communities. Tourists also have a responsibility to inform themselves before they travel in order to limit the threat of transmission, and they should follow the recommendations of the WHO and their own national health authorities.

Tourism is vulnerable to the effects of public health emergencies and is already being affected by this outbreak. However, it is too early to fully estimate the impacts this outbreak will have.

UNWTO as the specialized UN agency for tourism will continue supporting WHO, the lead UN agency for the management of this outbreak by advising and providing tourism specific guidance.

SustainableFirst.com supports the efforts of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for enhanced cooperation between the transport and tourism sectors to effectively transform tourism for climate action. More at www.SustainableFirst.com

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