The 25th session of the UNWTO General Assembly recently concluded, setting a clear vision for the future of global tourism.
The assembly, which gathered global tourism leaders, emphasized the need for a more ethical, diverse, and inclusive sector, spearheaded by an expanding UNWTO.
New Regional and Thematic Offices
A significant highlight of the assembly was the announcement of new Regional and Thematic offices. The UNWTO’s commitment to being more accessible to its members and having a presence in every region was evident. The Regional Office for the Middle East, inaugurated in Riyadh in 2021, has already become a hub for tourism education and rural development. This office has initiated several projects, including the Riyadh School for Hospitality and Tourism and the Best Tourism Villages initiative.
Furthermore, an agreement was signed with Brazil to establish a Regional Office in Rio de Janeiro, focusing on investments. Plans for a Regional Office in Marrakesh, Morocco, were also unveiled, with a focus on innovation and investments in tourism. Additionally, Uzbekistan, the host of the assembly, received approval for a Thematic Office for Tourism on the Silk Road.
Ethics and Accessibility in Tourism
The General Assembly emphasized the importance of ethics and accessibility in the tourism sector. The World Committee of Tourism Ethics welcomed new members, reinforcing its commitment to diversity. The assembly also looked forward to the International Conference on Accessible Tourism scheduled for November in San Marino.
Nine countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Thailand, have agreed to adhere to the International Code for the Protection of Tourists. This code, developed during the pandemic, aims to restore consumer confidence in travel.
World Tourism Day Updates
The assembly received updates on the World Tourism Day celebrations. The 2022 event, themed “Rethinking Tourism,” was hosted in Bali, Indonesia. In contrast, the 2023 event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, focused on “Tourism and Green Investments.” The assembly also approved upcoming themes: “Tourism and Peace” for 2024 in Georgia and “Tourism and Sustainable Developments” for 2025 in Malaysia.
Strengthening the Organization
Secretary-General Pololikashvili presented a report highlighting efforts to strengthen and modernize the UNWTO. The General Assembly extended the mandate of the Task Force on Redesigning Tourism for the Future. This task force aims to guide the global sector with a long-term strategy. The assembly also voted in favor of allowing Secretary-General Pololikashvili to seek a third mandate.
Affiliate Members’ Achievements
The assembly recognized the contributions of UNWTO’s Affiliate Members, representing various sectors, including business, academia, and civil society. Their efforts to promote economic diversity and resilience in tourism were particularly commended.
In a significant announcement, the 26th session of the UNWTO General Assembly will be hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, further emphasizing the nation’s growing role in global tourism.