UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai last week addressed the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament. Mr. Rifai said that the European Union (EU) has an opportunity to capitalize on the potential that tourism has to promote socio-economic growth.
“I believe that we have many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the tourism sector in Europe, the most visited region in the world, and its capacity to deliver economic growth and development,” he said.
During his address, Mr. Rifai called upon the EU to take the lead in three key areas in terms of tourism development – the fight against climate change through sustainability-related initiatives, entrepreneurship and business competitiveness and travel facilitation in view of its proven impact on economic growth.
“Europe is already well advanced in supporting energy efficiency and the use of renewable technologies and UNWTO is very happy to have contributed to these efforts with the Hotel Energy Solutions project, which supports SMEs in reducing carbon emissions, and the ongoing Nearly Zero Energy Hotels project” said UNWTO Secretary-General.
The issue of travel facilitation was also addressed by Mr. Rifai, who said that “security should and is a priority to us all; yet despite current challenges, Europe can and should continue to lead the way in travel facilitation, particularly from the growing markets of China, Brazil and many others in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. It makes no sense to invest millions in promoting Europe as a number one destination to the world, if then Europe’s doors to the world are closed.”