UNWTO meeting assesses the future of tourism in the Americas

US members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) assessed the current state of the sector and planned for its sustainable future at the recent 67th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas.

For two days in Punta del Este, Uruguay, tourism ministers and other high-level officials, including private sector leaders and delegates from international organizations, reviewed UNWTO’s leadership in the sector over the past year.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili presented a report on key trends in international tourism and the Organization’s main priorities for the region, including work around education and investment.

The Regional Commission was inaugurated by the President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, who was joined by the Minister of Tourism and host of the meeting, Tabaré Viera, and by the country’s Minister of External Relations, Francisco Bustillo. The meeting took place just two weeks after Uruguay hosted a UNESCO world conference, reflecting the country’s commitment to multilateral cooperation and support for the mission and values ​​of the United Nations, which include tourism. for development is essential.

President Lacalle hailed the leadership of the UNWTO, saying tourism remains a key part of the Uruguayan state’s economic policy, and the Commission’s meeting “highlighted the importance of all those working for the recovery tourism”, both in Uruguay and in the region as a whole.

Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Tourism has proven its potential to inspire change and drive growth in the Americas, and UNWTO Member States in the region are leading the way in building a tourism sector that works for everyone. world, with sustainability and inclusiveness at its heart.

Alongside the Commission meeting, the two met privately to deepen the already strong partnership between UNWTO and Uruguay, a key ally in the region and promoter of tourism for development in the Americas, including through the through high-level platforms and multilateral organizations.

Minister Tabaré Viera highlighted Uruguay’s commitment to reviving tourism, reminding participants that this first major tourist gathering in Uruguay since the start of the pandemic, has sent a clear message beyond the region itself. . The Minister also announced that Uruguay will adhere to the UNWTO’s International Tourist Protection Code and will thus be among the first countries in the world to take firm measures to restore confidence in international travel, further underlining the commitment of Uruguay towards tourism and tourist loyalty. safe and protected.

UNWTO members discussed the main challenges facing tourism today and the opportunities for recovery and growth. The debates between Member States were complemented by special interventions, including the presentation of the Center for the Promotion of Tourism for Latin America, Latina Tower, in New York, and the Latin American Development Bank (CAF).

CAF, the region’s leading infrastructure investor, addressed an UNWTO governing body for the first time, taking forward the newly established partnership between the Bank and UNWTO. At the same time, a policy discussion on “Accelerating Recovery and Building Resilience”, benefited from insights from leaders across the region,

Generate trust

Within the framework of the Regional Commission, Members met for a seminar on the UNWTO International Code for the Protection of Tourists. The landmark legal code, designed to offer tourists greater protection and thereby increase confidence in international travel, was adopted by Members at the UNWTO General Assembly in 2021.

Two countries in the Americas, Ecuador and Paraguay have already taken steps to incorporate it into national legislation, while Uruguay will initiate the corresponding process. UNWTO legal experts provided updates on the implementation and operation of the Code, highlighting existing gaps in the provision of assistance to tourists caught in emergency situations, learning lessons from the pandemic.

Next steps

On the margins of the Regional Commission meeting, Secretary General Pololikashvili met with the Minister of Tourism of Brazil, Carlos Brito, and then separately with the Minister of Tourism of Guatemala, Anayansy Rodríguez, to discuss the tourism sectors of their country and the possibilities to work more closely with UNWTO in the post-pandemic recovery phase.

Member States voted to hold the 68th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas in Ecuador in the first half of 2023.

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