UNWTO, ICAO to Promote Sustainable Development

UNWTO, ICAO to Promote Sustainable DevelopmentUNWTO, ICAO to Promote Sustainable Development

The UN World Tourism Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization announced a new joint strategic statement on tourism and air transport for development on Monday.

The Medellin Statement was agreed at the first joint UNWTO/ICAO High-Level Forum on Tourism and Air Transport for Development, held on the sidelines of the 21st UNWTO General Assembly in Medellin, Colombia.

It highlights the potential of air transport and tourism to improving socioeconomic prosperity and promote sustainable development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals expected to be agreed at the United Nations SDG Summit next week in New York, eTurbonews reported.

“With increased connectivity warranting long-term growth for aviation and tourism, our interlinked sectors represent lasting opportunities for socioeconomic development,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai opening the forum.

He said to harness these benefits, tourism and air transport must address persisting divergent policies and work toward a stronger, integrated position on inter-sectorial issues such as travel facilitation, market access, taxation or infrastructure development.

“As the global inter-governmental bodies responsible for tourism and aviation, UNWTO and ICAO are obliged to lead by example and pave the way for closer and more effective cooperation at all levels,” Rifai said.

ICAO Secretary-General Fang Liu said there are tremendous benefits for states that can be derived from optimized air transport connectivity and local and regional tourism development.

“This is true not only in terms of increased business activity and economic growth, but also improved general prosperity and social welfare. With aviation set to double in flight and passenger volumes in just the next 15 years, it is essential that states prepare today to reap the full benefits of this growth in the years ahead,” she said.

The high-level policymakers and regulators at the joint forum discussed challenges relating to policy convergence, the need for enhanced connectivity, market access, air transport competitiveness and travel facilitation.

“ICAO and UNWTO have been actively engaged for some time in maximizing the cooperative opportunities for aviation and tourism,” stressed ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu when opening the UNWTO General Assembly.

“These efforts have been aided by our private sector engagement through the Global Travel Association Coalition and they are critical to realizing both the long-term economic growth and prosperity benefits for states and the related targets in the UN SDGs.”

The Medellin Statement builds on a March 2013 agreement between the two bodies, signed in Montreal, Canada, which paved the way for sustainable development of tourism and aviation industries.

Air transport and tourism are major contributors to global economic prosperity. While ICAO sets standards and policies for aviation safety, security, efficiency, environmental protection and the economic development of air transport, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth and sustainable development. It offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

The Medellin Statement calls on governments to enhance the role of the private sector in sustainable development of both industries.