Sat | Dec 5, 2020

US moves closer to rejoining UNWTO

Published:Wednesday | June 26, 2019 | 12:18 AM
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

The United States of America has highlighted its support for tourism as a driver of sustainable development. A high-level delegation of the Government attending the World Tourism Organization Executive Council announced that the US is exploring the possibility of rejoining the UN agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and ­accessible tourism.

In a move that has been widely welcomed as a sign of the United States’ commitment to the UNWTO’s mandate, the country accepted the personal invitation of Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili to join the talks during the 110th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council held recently in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, and several member states representatives from the public and private sectors were in attendance.

Emma Doyle, principal ­deputy chief of staff to the President of the United States, announced before the council that “the United States is exploring the possibility of rejoining the World Tourism Organization” and noted that her country looked forward to working with the UNWTO “to encourage tourism around the world”.

Quoting President Trump, Doyle said that “America First does not mean America alone”. She added: “We believe that there is tremendous potential for UNWTO, with its focus on job creation and education, to be a beacon of innovation for other international organisations.”

Doyle headed the US delegation to the UNWTO Executive Council together with Ambassador Kevin E. Moley, assistant US secretary of state.

A founding member of the UNWTO, the United States is currently one of the world’s biggest tourism markets, both as a destination and as a source of international tourists. In 2018, the country welcomed more than 60 million tourists, and according to the most recent UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the tourism sector grew by seven per cent over the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

UNWTO members welcomed the presence of the United States at the meeting in Baku as recognition of tourism’s growing relevance to global economic growth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as an endorsement of the UNWTO’s leadership.

The 110th Session of the Executive Council comes as the UNWTO is undergoing a period of significant restructuring and streamlining.

Key priorities of Secretary-General Pololikashvili include closer alignment with the wider United Nations system, financial sustainability, and a focus on the role ­innovation, digital ­transformation, and ­entrepreneurship can play in the global tourism sector.