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Stronger, Greener, and more innovative: The future of tourism in the Americas

By Caribbean News Global fav

MADRID, Spain, (UNWTO) – Ministers from across the Americas met virtually for the 65th meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional Commission for the Americas to map a course for the sustainable growth of the region’s tourism sector, a lifeline for many millions and a key driver of economic growth.

The second of the UNWTO Regional Commission meetings held virtually, Member States were more united than ever in their determination to harness the power of tourism to recover from the economic and social impact of COVID-19 and drive future growth. The high-level discussions were opened by chairman and minister of tourism for Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett. He was joined by UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili, and ministers of tourism for 22 Member States from across the Americas. Member States share their responses to the shared challenge, discussions also focused on plans for sustainable recovery and future resilience, with an emphasis on the potential of digitization and new ideas and in boosting investment in green business models.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The temporary suspension of tourism has had a significant impact on the Americas. This meeting showed the shared determination to grow back stronger and better once the conditions allow. Sustainability and innovation will be at the heart of tourism’s recovery, both in the Americas and in every other global region. The sector’s return to growth will be a lifeline for many millions of people across the Americas while also helping protect and promote the region’s many cultures and natural heritage.”

Reflecting on the dynamic nature of tourism and the sector’s ability to adapt, the meeting featured the announcement of a collaboration between UNWTO and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) designed to promote digital transformation and positive change. The “Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge” will identify the best new ideas for the disruption of tourism, with a focus on sustainability and creating opportunities for all.

The meeting of the Commission for the Americas also saw a presentation of UNWTO’s joint project with the IFC (International Finance Corporation). The “Green Investments for Sustainable Tourism” initiative is designed to promote more investment in the greening of the sector, with a special emphasis on hospitality and on small-and-medium-sized businesses.

Meanwhile, UNWTO ensured the transformative power of tourism was a key part of the conversation at the latest edition of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit. The world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, the UNGC event brought together around 20,000 global leaders from 180 countries to discuss how business can support countries and communities around the world, with a particular emphasis on achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNWTO secretary-general Pololikashvili said: “The support of the private sector is essential if we are to accelerate recovery from the impact of COVID-19, safeguard existing jobs and create new ones, and make tourism more inclusive and sustainable. This virtual summit showed a high level of interest among corporate partners for being part of building a better future for people and planet, and of tourism’s important role in achieving this.”

The COVID-19 crisis has coincided with the beginning of the Decade of Action, the countdown to the achievement of the 17 Goals deriving from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Tourism, in particular, has demonstrated its important role in sustainable development and that is why it must be part of relief programmes and actions, ensuring that no one is left behind. In order to be sustainable and to contribute to inclusive growth, the tourism sector needs to bring all its stakeholders on board. The UNWTO, through its affiliate membership creates unique public-private partnership opportunities aiming at enhancing the collective endeavors and global solidarity.



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