The President of Hungary, Pál Schmitt, is among the first European heads of state to join the ongoing World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign.
President Schmitt was presented an Open Letter stressing the importance of Travel and Tourism to global growth and development by UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, following the European Stakeholders Conference organized in the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union (Budapest, Hungary, 13 May).
The President, having himself worked for 17 years in the tourism sector, said he was well aware of the importance of tourism to the economy and to employment. “I think that the co-operation of international and national tourism organizations and the synergy that derives from this common work of tourism stakeholders is one of the prerequisites of successful tourism development in Europe,” said President Schmitt receiving the Open Letter.
President Schmitt, a former Olympic gold medalist, also highlighted the close relationship between sports and tourism, which he identified as two driving forces of future growth for the new decade.
“Hungary joining this campaign is a very important step in our efforts to mainstream tourism in the global political and economic agenda. This is even more relevant as Hungary currently holds the Presidency of the European Union,” said Mr. Rifai. “Europe is the most visited region worldwide, yet tourism has not always received recognition at the highest level as a key driver of the region’s economy. Our presence here today and the commitment of President Schmitt to the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign is an important step forward in this regard,” he added.
Speaking from its annual Summit meeting in Las Vegas, David Scowsill, President and Chief Executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council said: “President Schmitt shows great understanding of the enormous economic and social benefits which come from fostering the development of Travel & Tourism, and its ability to create new jobs. I hope other European leaders will be quick to follow his example”.
With 9 million international tourist arrivals in 2010, Hungary is becoming one of the most important destinations in Europe and one of the few to have seen tourist numbers increase during the crisis year of 2009 – international tourist arrivals grew by 3% in 2009 and 5% in 2010. Tourism revenues reached US$ 5.4 billion (3.8 billion euros) in 2010.
As part of the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, UNWTO and WTTC are jointly presenting heads of state and government around the world an Open Letter which calls on them to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering on sustained and balanced growth and to prioritize the sector high in national policies in order to maximize its potential. The Open Letter outlines Travel and Tourism’s value as one of the world’s largest generators of sustainable enterprises and decent jobs, a powerful driver of socio-economic growth and development and a key player in the transformation to the Green Economy.