Participants from around the world joined the official closing ceremony of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 at the Palace of Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The event reviewed the year´s main achievements and discussed the roadmap for advancing the contribution of tourism towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, has been a unique opportunity for all of us to come together to promote the contribution of tourism to shape a better future for people and planet and to contribute to making this world a better place,” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, at the opening of the event. “We count on you as we embark on this exciting new journey towards 2030. I trust that together, as a sector, as people with the same vision and commitment, we will go far,” he added.
Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), mentioned, “Sustainability remains the bedrock of our activity. We will continue to drive the conversation on planning for and managing tourism growth, define a sector-wide response to climate change, work on how the sector can reduce illegal trade in wildlife and contribute to inclusive job creation.”
“It is so important that we succeed in making tourism sustainable by making sustainable tourism economically viable, culturally accepted, and universally practised,” said Michael Møller, director general, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). “The United Nations World Tourism Organisation deserves great credit for tackling this head on throughout this past year.” he mentioned.
According to Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary Economic Affairs (SECO) of Switzerland in the future, a strong international cooperation of all relevant actors involved in the tourism sector should become the driving force to promote sustainable tourism and to implement tourism policies efficiently.
Addressing the event was also HM King Simeon II, Special Ambassador of the IY2017 who stressed the importance of public/ private partnerships for sustainable tourism.
The panel discussions had participation from ministers of tourism of Costa Rica, Mauricio Ventura, Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett and Kenya, Najib Balala alongside representatives of IY2017 partners such All Nippon Airways, Amadeus, the Balearic Islands Tourism Agency, ECPAT International, the Institute for Tourism and Leisure, HTW Chur University in Switzerland, Minube, Myclimate, PRMEDIACO and the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority in the United Arab Emirates.
As part of the legacy of the IY2017, UNWTO presented the results of the ‘Tourism and SDGs’ report developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). On the occasion, UNWTO launched the Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals Programme as a legacy of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The programme aims at advocating for the contribution of sustainable tourism to the 17 SDGs and encouraging the full integration of tourism and the SDGs in national, regional and global agendas. It includes the future ‘Tourism and SDGs’ online platform – a co-creation space to inspire and empower the tourism sector to act – developed by UNWTO with the support of SECO and an Ambassadors Initiative.
The tourism and SDGs ambassadors designated on the occasion include HE Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, president of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, the president of Costa Rica, HE Luis Guillermo Solís, Huayong Ge, president of UnionPay China; Dr Talal Abu Ghazaleh, chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation and Dr Michael Frenzel, president of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry.