Investing in sustainable tourism

A car piled with holiday belongings.

Three international tourism organisations have declared a strategic partnership, through which they plan to collaborate and invest on driving sustainable tourism and developing resistance in the face of the many potential crises facing the sector.

The newly formed International Tourism and Investment Conference, the Resilience and Crisis Management Foundation and the Mediterranean Global Centre for Tourism announced their new partnership at the conference’s launch event last Friday in London, UK. Dr Taleb Rifai, former Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization and now Chairman of the conference’s advisory board, commented: “We cannot work alone. We have to work together if we want to achieve anything. We can find synergies. That’s how our industry can become something. Why is investing important in our industry? It’s because it’s investing in all our futures.”

Tourism, he said, is not just a business sector accounting for over seven per cent of global GDP and one in 10 jobs: “It’s more than just that. It’s touching people’s lives. It’s connecting people together.”

The event featured a number of speakers, including Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta – where tourism accounts for 27 per cent of GDP and 28 per cent of jobs – who said that tourism needed to be developed with the full participation of local populations, rather than merely establishing five-star gated institutions for rich foreigners. She said that tourism needed to foster education and work opportunities, enabling local people to reach their full potential.

“Policies in tourism must be a response to the grassroots realities of our communities,” she said. “To ensure we manage to find the right balance with increasing pressure of ‘overtourism’, sustainable tourism is the only way forward.”

The first full International Tourism and Investment Conference will take place next November in London.