UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, met with the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, to discuss tourism’s role in meeting the challenges currently facing the sector (Madrid, Spain, 9 February).
Congratulating Minister Soria of his recent appointment, Mr. Rifai spoke of the relevance of basing UNWTO, the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, in Spain, one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.
Discussions focused on the role of tourism in facing economic, social and environmental challenges, as well as areas of future cooperation between Spain and UNWTO.
Minister Soria congratulated UNWTO on the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, which, since early 2011, has been gaining continued support from heads of state and government for tourism as a key economic sector. “I am willing to present this initiative to the Prime Minister of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, and I am confident that he will gladly join, given his strong interest in this strategic sector as a motor for economic recovery,” said the Minister.
Minister Soria and Mr. Rifai also discussed Spain’s role as the official host of the 2012 World Tourism Day celebrations, around the theme Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Spain, and in particular the Canary Islands, is the “ideal setting” to hold the 2012 celebrations, said Mr. Rifai, as a country leading the way in both tourism and sustainable energy. Minister Soria highlighted the event as the perfect opportunity to strengthen the relationship between both parties, advance the international tourism agenda and further the United Nations presence in Spain.
“UNWTO headquarters have been based in Spain for nearly forty years and the relationship between the Organization and its host country has gone from strength to strength,” said Mr. Rifai. “Given our discussions today, I am more than confident that they will continue to do so under the leadership and engagement of Minister Soria.”