UNWTO focuses on sustainable goals

ST PETERSBURG, 13 September 2019: The 23rd Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) closes today 13 September in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation.

More than 1,000 participants from 124 countries = travelled to St Petersburg to attend more than a dozen international tourism governance events during this week.

The general assembly’s core discussions focused on tourism’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and tourism’s voice at the heart of the United Nations and the global policy agenda.

High-level summits and debates addressed key topics including tourism’s increasingly-prominent role in advancing the sustainability agenda, private-public cooperation, and the place of innovation and entrepreneurship in the future of tourism, with a particular focus on job creation, education and the fight against climate change.

Highlighting the importance of the occasion, President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin addressed delegates via a specially recorded video message.

President Putin noted that it was a “great honour” for St Petersburg to host the General Assembly and expressed his desire for Russia also to host World Tourism Day in 2022.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili told the organisation’s member states and its private sector affiliate members that the true potential of tourism as a driver of economic growth, sustainable development and equality has yet to be realised.

“An attitude of ’business as usual’ will not drive the change we want to see. The tourism sector needs to reflect the realities of a changing world,” Pololikashvili told the General Assembly.

“That means promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship. It means training people for the jobs of tomorrow. And it means being open to innovation, including the power of technology to change the way we travel – and how the benefits that tourism can bring are shared as widely as possible.”

Earlier this week, UNWTO’s released highlights of the World Tourism Barometer that confirmed the strength and resilience of global tourism.

According to the latest data, international tourist arrivals grew by 4% between January and June 2019 when compared with the same period of 2018.

This growth was led by the Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%), with more affordable air travel, strong global economies and improved visa facilitation all contributing to the positive trend.