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Published on : Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Málaga is hosting the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) until Wednesday, 11 May. Attending the session are some 300 representatives from 50 countries, including 17 ministers and secretaries of tourism (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Spain, Ghana, Jamaica, Namibia, Kenya, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, South Africa and Zimbabwe).The opening ceremony held yesterday was presided over by the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai; the Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, Isabel Borrego; the Mayor of Málaga, Francisco de la Torre; the President of the Provincial Council of Málaga, Elias Bendodo; and the Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Francisco Javier Fernandez Hernandez.
The Council will hold meetings in Málaga until Wednesday to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the tourism sector, the programme of work of the Organization and the agenda for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to be observed throughout 2017.
With UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai expressing his warmest congratulations to the host city of the event, the opening ceremony highlighted the strong performance of Spain, Andalusia and one of the region’s major capitals, Málaga, in tourism, one of the economic sectors that have shown the greatest resilience in times of crisis. In addition to the contribution of tourism to economic development and job creation, innovation has been one of the key aspects in the consolidation of the sector.
“Tourism has become one of the cornerstones of our economies and our societies. In the coming days we will discuss how to support the continuous growth of tourism and how to deal with some of challenges facing tourism today—including those related to sustainability or security. We will also discuss the agenda for the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly,” said UNWTO chief Taleb Rifai.
Stressing the importance of the sector, the Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain, Isabel Borrego, said: “Spain has been a member of the UNWTO since 1975 and since then tourism has become a true driving force of our economy. Therefore, this government decided to make tourism a state policy and to use Spain’s tourism brand image as its most valuable tool to position our country brand abroad.”
The Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Regional Government of Andalucía said: “Tourism represents one of the best opportunities for the prosperity of many regions, territories and countries; in Andalusia we have spent decades accumulating experience, innovating, and treating this sector as a key industry for the progress, stability and socio-economic cohesion of our territories. What began as an emerging segment has managed to become the main productive activity of the autonomous region.”
“It gives us great pride to have you present here tonight because the Costa del Sol is once again in the spotlight as a forum for the discussion of the most relevant and timely issues in tourism today. I am sure that this debate will result in a roadmap that will undoubtedly be useful for designing the future strategies of the world’s main tourism destinations. That is why it is so important for us to be hosting this meeting,” said the President of the Provincial Council of Málaga.
“Indeed, tourism is the industry of peace and development. Nothing contributes to highlight the social, economic, political and cultural values of peoples as much as tourism does. It is therefore necessary that all we focus on the undeniable contribution of this industry to the development of society,” said the Mayor of Málaga.
The Executive Council session will also be the context of the presentation of the first wine tourism prototype developed by the World Tourism Organization in conjunction with the Leading Brands of Spain Forum and five Spanish wineries. The prototype aims to strengthen wine tourism in Spain and serve as a model for other destinations with potential in this segment.
Upon the conclusion of the Executive Council session, Málaga will host the United Nations Inter-Agency Games, featuring competitions in various sports such as athletics, football or badminton, with the participation of personnel working in the different agencies, funds and programmes of the UN system from the world over.