The importance of building new partnership models for the sustainable development of cultural tourism gained particular relevance at the 99th session of the UNWTO Executive Council meeting in Samarkand. The Council also debated the latest international tourism trends and their impact on the Programme of Work of the Organization (Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 1-4 October 2014).
The UNWTO Executive Council stressed the need to promote new governance models to foster closer cooperation between tourism and culture in order to advance the sustainable development of cultural tourism. Other issues raised during the thematic discussion on tourism and culture included congestion management, financing, public-private sector cooperation, the role of local communities in tourism development and cultural preservation, as well as the promotion of events, creative industries and contemporary culture and history in enriching the visitor experience.
The debate took place against the backdrop of the forthcoming UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture, Building a New Partnership (Siem Reap, Cambodia, 4-5 February 2015), which will bring together, for the first time, Ministers of Tourism and Culture from around the world.
Assessing the latest international tourism trends and challenges, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, highlighted the positive results of international tourism in recent years and underlined some of the challenges facing the sector. “Despite geopolitical and economic challenges, the number of international tourist arrivals has grown by 5% a year on average since 2010, a trend that has translated into more economic growth, more exports and more jobs” he said in opening the Council. “Yet, as we welcome milestones and look forward to the continued expansion of our sector, it only underlines the need for us to strengthen our Organization in raising tourism´s prominence to ensure its sustainable growth and its positive benefits for all people,” Mr. Rifai added.
In this context, participating countries recalled the need to fight misperceptions about the Ebola Virus Outbreak in Africa stressing that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel.
The 99th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council, chaired by Indonesia and co-chaired by Jamaica and Mozambique, was attended by 33 Members – 24 UNWTO Executive Council Members and 9 UNWTO Members attending as Observers – and a total of 120 participants.
The 100th Session of the Executive Council will take place in Croatia. Jamaica, Mozambique and Croatia will act respectively as Chair, First and Second Vice-Chairs of the Executive Council for the year 2015.