Mar 20, 2018
At the 22nd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held in Chengdu in China Abu-Ghazaleh Stresses the Impact of Tourism on Global Economy
CHENGDU, China – HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org) and United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Special Ambassador for the United Nations International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development stressed the massive impact of the tourism sector on all sectors and fields in the world.

During his keynote speech at the 22nd General Assembly of the UNWTO held in Chengdu in China, Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh said: "We know that the impact of tourism cuts across all sectors of the economy and society. Apart from its immediate entertainment value it is an educational and learning experience. It opens new windows to other cultures, languages and religions and makes it easier to understand other peoples' history and way of life."
He added: "It thus breaks down barriers to communication and understanding, leading to tolerance for the other. No wonder some of the greatest writings in world literature have been produced by world travelers such as Marco Polo and Ibn-Battuta."

According to Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh, the holistic impact of tourism makes it a natural instrument that can contribute vitally to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

"If pursued responsibly and in a sustainable manner, tourism stimulates inclusive and equitable economic growth, creates jobs, especially for youth and women, attracts investment in infrastructure and technology, creates small businesses, generates livelihoods in local communities and thus reduces poverty while protecting the environment," he said.

"However, all this cannot and does not happen by itself. Governments must accord high priority to the sector in their national development strategies, create a favorable policy framework and work towards building public-private partnerships that can engage all stakeholders and produce results," he added.

 The bi-annual event, the second hosted in China and the fourth in Asia and the Pacific discussed how to advance the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and define the actions of the UNWTO for the period 2018-2019.

"I would like to pay tribute and express my profound thanks to our host country, China, which has in a short span of time, become world’s largest outbound tourism market and the fourth most visited country in the world. This is because the Chinese Government has defined tourism as a strategic pillar of the national economy and placed high priority on it as a driver of development. This is a success story worthy of emulation by many other countries," Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh who has developed excellent relations with China and was honored by Chinese President Xi Jinping for his outstanding contributions to China-Arab friendship said.

Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh also thanked UNWTO Secretary General HE Mr. Taleb Rifai who will end his term after serving the UNWTO for eight years saying: "I wish to pay my personal tribute to and salute Dr. Rifai for his visionary and truly exemplary leadership of the UNWTO, as its Secretary General for the past eight years, for which he has earned universal respect and admiration. He has turned the UNWTO into a world class organization of which not only the United Nations but the whole international community is proud. He will no doubt continue to guide us with his wisdom and sagacity in the years to come."

The event witnessed the signing of a MoU for partnership between TAG-Org and the UNWTO to establish an International Smart Tourism Center. The Center, which will be designed to function as a core of a multi-stakeholder network of country, sub-regional and regional nodes, will promote and foster technological solutions to enhance the role of tourism in the achievement of the SDGs by using innovations and technology to make destinations smarter and thus contribute to better results.

Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh concluded: "I invite all countries and stakeholders to join this global initiative and make it a success."