“Growing Better”

Zurab Pololikashvili, recently-appointed Secretary General-Tourism has a responsibility to lead global sustainable development agenda says new UNWTO chief.

Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), made a strong impression during his visit to ITB Berlin 2018.

Appointed to the role in late 2017, the event was an opportunity for Pololikashvili to meet industry stakeholders and set out his organisation’s vision – some of which was laid out during his address at the opening of ITB Berlin on March 6.

Speaking in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, tourism ministers from around the world and the leaders of the tourism sector, Pololikashvili stressed how tourism not only needs to consolidate current growth rates, but “to grow better”. He said the tourism sector has a role and responsibility in contributing to sustainable development on a global scale.

In 2017, international tourist numbers grew a record 7% to reach 1.3 billion. UNWTO’s message underlines the need to turn these figures into benefits for all people and communities.

“Leaving no one behind”, said Pololikashvili, is the benchmark for true sustainability, which must also decouple growth from resource use and place climate change mitigation at the heart of the tourism sector’s agenda.

“Tourism’s sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development,” said the UNWTO Secretary-General, while warning at the same time that it also brings many challenges. “Adapting to the challenges of safety and security, constant market changes, digitalisation and the limits of our natural resources should be priorities in our common action.”

Along with sustainability and climate change, Pololikashvili also stressed education and job creation, innovation and technology, safety and security as the priorities for the sector if the UN’s 2030 Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is to be achieved.

Pololikashvili concluded that public/private cooperation as well as coordination “must be strengthened in order to translate tourism growth into more investment, more jobs and better livelihoods”.

Photo: Zurab Pololikashvili Secretary-General, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)