Innovation, youth empowerment and tourism and rural development took center stage, as Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez Pérez-Castejón joined UNWTO for the third day of its General Assembly in Madrid.
With the opening days of the most important global tourism meeting focused on UNWTO’s response to the impacts of the pandemic and uniting members behind its leadership and program of work, the third day envisioned a more sustainable and inclusive future for the area.
Addressing a special thematic session, Building for the Future: Innovation, Education and Rural Development, Prime Minister Sánchez recognized the importance of the sector in providing opportunities outside of cities, both in Spain and in the world, while reaffirming his government’s support for the UNWTO’s mission.
Addressing delegates as well, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “If we really want to ‘leave no one behind’ then we need to take innovation, education and promotion seriously. tourism as a tool for rural development. This means empowering young people, supporting tourism talent, and also giving the best solutions the political and financial support they need to develop and transform our sector. “
The session included a ministerial debate on the policy to promote tourism for rural development, with ideas and contributions from the tourism ministers of Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Paraguay, Slovenia, Tanzania, Spain and Turkey. It was followed by a round table on entrepreneurship and innovation in innovation.
Member States were represented by the tourism ministers of Chile, Greece, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, while the winners of the Global Rural Tourism Start-Up Competition of the OMT represented the private sector.
In conclusion, a discussion on empowering tomorrow’s tourism leaders, with reference to the UNWTO Student League, featured contributions from the Tourism Ministers of Bulgaria, Lebanon, Maldives and Oman, as well as the students themselves.
In addition to looking to the future, the General Assembly also celebrated destinations that are already leading the way in making tourism a pillar of rural development and an opportunity. Out of hundreds of entries, 44 villages from 32 countries were named the best tourist villages by the UNWTO.