UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai has called for increased co-operation between tourism source markets and destinations that have been affected by crises.
Addressing the 20thSummit of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry in Berlin, Rifai said: “Real crises are often magnified or distorted by crises of perception. We need to enhance our support to countries affected by crises as they recover and help them increase their resilience. Supporting these countries will benefit the whole tourism sector and the whole of society.”
Speaking about the need to build a framework of safe, secure and seamless travel, Rifai said safety and security is a global challenge. “No country is immune to security risks. Not one. It is a global responsibility that we must face together, across sectors and borders.” He called for increased co-operation, saying: “Let us respond not with isolation but with unity. We must be vigilant to ensure that co-operation prevails over isolation and that safe and seamless travel can go hand in hand.”
Attending the Summit was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed the opportunities that sustainable tourism provides for developing and emerging countries. “It is important for the tourism sector to emphasize local culture and local products and services, to generate truly genuine development opportunities,” said the Chancellor.
Merkel highlighted the role of tourism in development assistance. “Many refugees come from African countries. We need to give people economic development perspectives in their home countries. Tourism could contribute significantly to this,” she said.
Rifai says tourism requires cooperation in a variety of forms. “A condition of tourism’s success is positive co-operation – between visitor and host, between source market and destination, and also between the tourism and security sectors. For this reason I call for the mainstreaming of tourism into national, regional and global safety and security agendas. Effective co-ordination, information sharing and communication mechanisms between tourism and security will lead to safer and more seamless travel, as well as better crisis management.”
Despite current challenges, Rifai stressed that tourism is proving to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide, creating jobs for millions and contributing to more inclusive growth. He recalled that in 2015, international tourist arrivals reached 1.186 billion, 52 million more than in 2014, and that data for the 1st half of 2016 confirmed this positive trend with a 4% increase in international tourist arrivals.