Published on : Friday, January 20, 2017
The President of the Spanish Government Mariano Rajoy has this morning highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism and its support of economic growth in a message sent to the 20 th Latin American Conference for Tourism Ministers and Businessmen. CIMET gathered together Latin America’s principal tourism ministers and businesspeople on the eve of FITUR 2017, the International Tourism Trade Fair organised by IFEMA, which opens tomorrow and which will be staged from 18 to 22 January at Feria de Madrid.
Organised by the NEXO Group in collaboration with FITUR and the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations, CEOE, CIMET has been uninterruptedly staging the Conference for two decades. It is for this reason that the Organising Committee has presented the CIMET Medal to the Latin American Tourism Ministers and to the Dignitaries of Spanish Tourism, among them FITUR, which was received by its Director Ana Larrañaga. During the Conference, the CIMET 2017 Gold and Diamond Badge was also presented to the Dignitary of Spanish Tourism in Latin America, Miguel Fluxá, CEO of Iberostar Group, who explained the company’s history and its expansion around Latin America, highlighting territories such as Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba or Brazil. “We are proud of the position we have achieved in all these countries and today -said Fluxá- the group boasts 27,000 employees, turned over more than 2 billion euros in 2016 and continues to analyse opportunities for opening new hotels in Latin America”.
The President of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, underlined that 2017 has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the World Tourism Organisation, stating that “both sustainability and the drive for growth are goals we all share”. “I am therefore confident -he added- that this new Latin American Conference for Tourism Ministers and Businessmen (CIMET) will be a success in promoting investment opportunities that improve the quality of tourism in our countries.
This is the twentieth staging of CIMET and we can confirm the ability of this important industry meeting to create synergies for all participating nations”.
Rajoy stated that “in Spain we are enjoying a good period for tourism. We can congratulate ourselves that we are breaking our own record figures year after year. And we have succeeded in becoming the top European powerhouse in tourism measured by number of incoming foreign visitors”.
Carlos Ortiz, co-president of CIMET, highlighted the efforts of the Nexo Group over the past twenty years in organising the gathering and affirmed his determination to be “a nexus of union at the service of this important activity that is tourism”. He expressed his intention of “seeking to contribute to increasing the flow of tourists year on year in a sustainable manner” and stated that “the relationship between the Spanish business community and Latin American countries will contribute to boosting tourism yet further”.
Luis Cueto, Chairman of the IFEMA Governing Board, expressed Madrid’s vocation as a Latin American capital in Europe. He also highlighted Argentina as the 2017 guest country of important fairs such as FITUR, ARCO and Madrid Fusión, which is why “it will be very much present in our city during this year”. He also emphasised other important events associated with Latin America which are due to be hosted by Madrid in 2017, such as the opening of Casa de México in the Spanish capital, the gastronomic meeting in which Colombia will play a central role, the Latino Awards and the Guadalajara Latin American Book Fair. Cueto also stressed Iberia’s efforts in opening new international destinations, which will facilitate contact with Latin America.
For his part, Luis Gallego, Chairman of the FITUR Organising Committee and CEO of the Iberia Group, said that tourism is “a source of wealth for our country and can still be far more crucial in Latin America’s development and growth”. He stated that CIMET and the rest of the meetings at FITUR will be “highly stimulating and productive” and highlighted Argentina’s participation as the Trade Fair’s partner. As CEO of Iberia, he expressed his intention of contributing to giving Latin America “increasingly improved connections with Spain”.
For Carlos Chaguaceda, Director-General for Tourism of the Madrid Region, “the key word in tourism is cooperation”. He reminded us that this Region cooperates with Madrid City Hall, the Spanish Government and the private sector in developing the industry “because the administration cannot reach everywhere without the effort of private enterprise”, but added that we also have to “extend this cooperation to the different countries”.
Joan Gaspart, Chairman of the CEOE’s Tourism Council, highlighted the major role played by tourism in the economy and the importance of “listening, participating and making the most” of the large number of personalities present at the event. He also emphasised the important role played by tourism as a driver of the economy during the economic crisis and referred to the priorities the CEOE has set out to the Spanish Government for boosting the industry even further.
Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, also insisted on FITUR’s importance and on the role tourism plays as the driving force behind the exchange of ideas and as a bridge between “countries, cultures and continents”. He also referred to its dynamising role in promoting connection and cooperation between people and in generating new business opportunities. And he reminded us that 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Of the multiple speakers present, the Tourism Minister of Argentina, Gustavo Santos, claimed that Argentina “has again opened up to the world” and has taken measures to
“support foreign investment in the country”. He also mentioned the country’s participation this year as the FITUR partner and recalled that Argentina and Spain have “a shared history of solidarity, affection and trust”.
Also among those present at the Conference were the co-presidents of CIMET, Eugenio de Quesada and Carlos Ortiz, the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Matilde Asían; the Tourism Ministers of Brazil, Marx Beltrão; of Colombia, María Claudia Lacouture; of Costa Rica, Mauricio Ventura; of Cuba, Manuel Marrero; of El Salvador, José Napoleón Duarte; of Guatemala, Jorge Mario Chajón; of Honduras, Emilio Silvestri; of Paraguay, Marcela Bacigalupo; of Dominican Republic, Francisco Javier García; and of Venezuela, Marleny Contreras; plus the Undersecretary for Tourism of Chile, Javiera Montes Cruz.
The ministers and businesspeople debated in panels during this 20 th Conference, which was devoted to Customer: new distribution demand and technologies; Transport: air connectivity and open skies policy; Destination: environmental sustainability and climate change; and Accommodation: the problems of funding in the hotel industry. A panel was formed for each one of these major topics comprised of Latin American Ministers and Spanish businesspeople (plus the presidents of the main CEOE Organisations).
At the closing, the Chairman of the IFEMA Executive Committee, Clemente González Soler, highlighted “the privileged meeting forum that is CIMET”, the best exponent of the positive development of FITUR, “Latin America’s foremost trade fair which opens its doors tomorrow”. González Soler reminded us that FITUR is staging its 37 th edition and stated that from the very first event IFEMA conceived the fair as “a key tool for driving forward competitiveness in tourism and for dynamising the industry’s business”.
He added that the Trade Fair has established a position among the most important tourism trade fairs in the world and as a leader in the Latin American sphere, with the participation this year of around 9,700 companies from 175 countries “that have relied on the Trade Fair to boost their business”. He also said that FITUR is the major tourism platform for Latin America, with a presence which at this edition will be reinforced by Argentina acting as the FITUR partner and by 17% more exhibitors from Latin America.