Advancing innovation and talent development in tourism and air travel is the core component of the first Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNWTO and The International Air Transport Association (IATA). The MOU is part of the objectives set by both organizations of bringing the tourism and air transport agendas closer together (Madrid, Spain, 10 June 2014).
UNWTO and IATA have formally agreed to jointly advocate for innovation and talent development in the public and private sectors as a means to promote competitive and sustainable tourism development, with a particular focus on the air transport industry.
In line with the agreement, IATA will support the creation of a new category within the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism, which will recognize innovation in marketing, product development with the objective to enhance connectivity and increase travel accessibility by airlines, travel agents and other travel and tourism companies. IATA will also be a leading implementing partner in the UNWTO Knowledge Network Talent Development initiative, which aims to support young talents in the tourism sector through internships, knowledge transfer and research.
“This agreement is an important step to further strengthen our close relationship, a valued Affiliate Member of UNWTO” said Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO Executive-Secretary of Member Relations, on the occasion of the signing. “Air travel is a key driver of tourism development around the world and we are looking forward to joining forces with IATA in promoting the important innovations spurred by travel companies and further fostering young talents in the tourism and air transport sectors”.
The head of the IATA Global Partnership and the Travel & Tourism Unit, Ismail Albaidhani, highlighted the strong linkages between air transport and tourism. ”Passenger experiences expand beyond the travel by air, involving other tourism components including tour operators, car rentals, railway companies as well as hotels”, he said. “IATA works with over 60,000 travel and tourism organizations offering a solutions portfolio ranging from professional identification, digital coding and training products, to financial, billing and settlement services. We are now working very closely with UNWTO to strengthen the collaboration between the various travel and tourism value-chain partners, and today’s important agreement establishes a solid platform to launch crucial joint-industry initiatives worldwide”, he added.
On the occasion, UNWTO and IATA further agreed to organize a joint event on air travel and tourism value chains to be held next January in the framework of the UNWTO Awards taking place in Madrid, Spain.