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Published on : Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Increased regional cooperation, visa facilitation and the customization of visitor experiences through mobile technologies were some of the topics in focus at the 58th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe and Seminar on Mobile Technologies for Improving the Tourism Experience (Haifa, Israel, 12-13 May).
Europe is the world’s most visited region, accounting for more than half of the world’s international tourist arrivals. In 2014, international tourism in Europe continued to deliver positive results making a fundamental contribution to the economic recovery in the region: international tourist arrivals grew by 3% to reach a record 584 million, while international tourism receipts increased by 4% contributing US$ 509 billion (383 billion euros) to the European economies.
The 58th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe gathered representatives from 30 European countries and other tourism stakeholders in the region to discuss policy priorities and set the agenda for UNWTO’s programme of work for the region in 2016-2017.
“Tourism is a key driver of growth, exports and employment in Europe and has been critical in creating jobs in the region in recent years”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opening the meeting. ”Yet, consumer behaviour and business models are in deep transformation. By working together, European destinations can aim to sustain the recent growth of the sector and improve the competitiveness of their destinations”, he added.
The main priorities for European tourism identified by the Commission include the development of cultural routes and other transnational products to enhance regional cooperation and mitigate seasonality; visa facilitation and connectivity; digitalization; and the need to adapt regulatory frameworks to facilitate entrepreneurship and emerging business models.
The Commission concluded its 58th meeting by calling on UNWTO to continue its vital work on the socio-economic impact of tourism and further raise the profile of the sector in the national and international agendas.
The UNWTO Seminar on Mobile Technologies for Improving the Tourism Experience, held on the sidelines of the Commission, highlighted the mobile revolution in tourism and how new technologies have opened up great opportunities for destinations to create unique and customized visitor experiences. By showcasing best examples of interactive applications, tourism augmented reality games, and other ways of engaging visitors, the Seminar explored how destinations can improve their competitiveness by leveraging the possibilities offered by mobile technologies.