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Global Tourism Forum Andorra calls for collective action for a more competitive and responsible tourism

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai,Tourism’s sustained growth and its capacity to tackle global challenges – from economic crises and persistent unemployment to environmental pressures and the poverty imperative – can only be achieved through collective action. This was the central message coming out of the Global Tourism Forum Andorra 2011 (GTF) (Andorra la Vella, Andorra, 6-7 March).

The GTF has concluded in Andorra with calls for the international tourism community to move the tourism agenda forward sustainably and in full coordination and collaboration.

“During this Forum I trust you will determine how to set tourism development on a path that will always be both competitive and responsible, taking into consideration new challenges,” said the Prime Minister of Andorra, Jaume Bartumeu, as he officially opened the GTF.

The GTF is envisaged as a “truly global and open platform for debate and exchange” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, addressing over 200 representatives from the public and private sector, United Nations agencies, regional and international organizations such as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), academia and civil society; brought together to chart new pathways for tourism growth.

“The tourism sector is a huge employer, creator of economic security and contributor to society,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, addressing the Forum. “It is essential to development and can champion the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”.

The Forum centered on the challenges and opportunities of competitiveness and responsibility for the tourism sector. Ministers of Tourism, industry leaders and heads of travel organizations outlined the necessary steps for a more competitive tourism sector, such as strengthening private-public partnerships and addressing taxation on travel through concerted action. The Secretary of Tourism of Mexico, Gloria Guevara, pointed to a common agenda between the private and public sector as a central condition for competitive growth. Issues of local community involvement in tourism development, best practices and the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental and social – were central to discussions on responsibility.

Side events throughout the day addressed further tourism issues, including the increasing relevance of mega events for tourism, organized by Visa, at which the Minister of Tourism of South Africa, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, shared his experience of the economic and social legacy resulting from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The WEF launched its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011 and the contribution of traditional and new media to communicating tourism’s importance was debated during an event organized by UNWTO global media partner CNN.

The GTF was preceded by a High Level Retreat, at which tourism leaders from across the sector met to share insights and expertise on how to further mainstream tourism in the global agenda and its role in sustainable development.

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