The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and UNWTO signed a special Joint Statement on Aviation and Tourism, acknowledging the intention of the two UN agencies to begin cooperating more closely on issues of common priority.
The Joint Statement was signed by ICAO Secretary General, Raymond Benjamin, and UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, on the occasion of the official opening of the ICAO Sixth Worldwide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/6).
Visa facilitation, taxation, the modernization of aviation regulations and the development of convergent rules for traveller and enterprise protection were stressed in the Statement as key areas for improved collaboration.
“Separate sectorial policies on air transport and tourism result in a fundamental, and too often even conflicting disconnect which constitutes a severe constraint on the development of travel and tourism” stressed Mr. Rifai. “The signing of this Statement therefore represents a defining moment – one which can set air transport and tourism on a common path on matters of shared concern with considerable mutual benefit.”
More than one billion tourists crossed international borders during 2012, over half of who travelled by air to their destinations. The total number of international tourists, which includes both business and leisure travellers, is expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
“Based on ICAO’s latest forecasts, aircraft departures are forecast to grow from 30 million today to 60 million by 2030,” noted ICAO's Benjamin. “These figures support the UNWTO’s tourism projections and highlight how important it is that our organizations continue to address air transport system capacity and related challenges today, in order to maximize the economic development aspects of air transport and tourism tomorrow.”
Additional areas outlined for future cooperation by ICAO and the UNWTO included air passenger flow management at airports, air capacity for least developed countries and the continued reduction of environmental impacts resulting from international air travel and tourism. Due consideration will be maintained on the importance of air transport to tourism development in long-haul destinations and landlocked or island states.Benjamin and Rifai concluded their ceremony by jointly highlighting the considerable contributions of aviation and tourism to raise employment, fuel economic growth and social development. Together, their organizations will now be focusing on addressing existing obstacles to aviation and tourism growth as to ensure both sectors continue to contribute in a sustainable manner to global prosperity.