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UNWTO Condemns US Administration Decision to Restore Travel Restrictions with Cuba

  Taleb Rifai
Secretary General, UNWTO
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expresses its firm resentment over the recently-announced decision by the United States Administration to restore travel restrictions with Cuba.
“This represents a step backwards and a strong attack on the freedom of travel,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
“This decision will have limited impact on Cuba’s tourism development, yet it will substantially affect the US economy and American jobs. Many US companies have started to invest in and do business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism, which other countries will surely continue to benefit from,“ he added.
Tourism is one of the key economic sectors in Cuba, supporting many livelihoods and drawing significant interest from foreign investors, which will surely continue being the case.
In 2016 Cuba received over 4 million international visitors, a growth of over 1 million in only five years.

Moldova hosts the 61st Meeting of the
UNWTO Commission for Europea

Over 30 countries and Affiliate Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) gathered recently in Chisinau, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova, for the 61st Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe. Participants discussed the priority areas for the Organization as well as strategies to position the tourism sector as a key driver of sustainable development in Europe.
The meeting dedicated special attention to the need to continue enhancing UNWTO’s work on the promotion of safe, secure and seamless travel. UNWTO has recently launched a High Level Tourism and Security Task Force to advance this issue.
The Member States expressed their condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, and a minute of silence was held in memory of the victims.
An authentic and unexplored gem in European tourism, whose wines are appreciated and renowned worldwide, the Republic of Moldova has demonstrated a strong commitment with sustainable tourism.
“The Republic of Moldova is still an emerging tourist destination, but has all the potential to become a must-see destination; the demonstrated commitment to sustainable development of tourism will ensure that the country reaps all the rewards that tourism has to offer.” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai met the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Pavel Filip, to discuss the role of tourism in the socio-economic development of the country. The meeting underlined the importance that Moldova is giving to the tourism sector in the country’s economy.
“We are convinced that tourism is a key tool for Moldova to achieve sustainable growth and job creation, and indeed to help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This meeting will undoubtedly help us to support our tourism sector in achieving its potential” said Stanislav Rusu, Director General of the Tourism Agency of the Republic of Moldova.
UNWTO’s Commission Meeting also reviewed the work of the Organization’s technical committees on Competitiveness, Sustainability and Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), and the activities of Member States to celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. Further items on the agenda included the transformation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics into an international convention, the creation of national committees on tourism ethics and the priorities of UNWTO’s Programme of Work for 2018-2019.

PATA Reaffirms Support to Paris Accord on Climate Change

  Dr. Mario Hardy
Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is reasserting its commitment to sustainable development across the entire spectrum of travel and tourism with a renewed pledge to support the Paris Accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Embedded within this PATA advocacy theme is an acknowledgement and recognition that tourism must play an influential role in preserving the planet's natural resources by adopting effective, sustainable practices.
"Our members, both public and private sector, are leading by example. They recognise that responsible business practices must embrace practical measures to offset the potentially irreversible damage to our planet caused by climate change," said PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy.
Dr. Hardy has welcomed the responses and statement of leading business figures such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk as well as the Governors of several US states that, together, have also reaffirmed their commitment to combating climate change.
“Now is the time to reinforce our determination for the principles and objectives of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This agreement has now been ratified by 147 nations and territories. We encourage more nations to sign and to support practically the efforts to reduce carbon emissions,” added Dr. Hardy.
“The decision of the US government to withdraw from the Paris Accord is highly regrettable but it will not deter us from campaigning vigorously for effective measures to preserve and protect our world. This is an opportunity for tourism to lead by example. Environmental protection and preservation is above politics and way beyond the beliefs of individual politicians. Whether natural or man-made our climate is changing - and not for the better. PATA will continue to advocate responsible tourism development that benefits, rather than destroys, our communities."

Langkawi is the Venue for PATA Travel Mart 2018


Dr. Mario Hardy, Association’s Head said, “Tourism Malaysia and Langkawi Development Authority have been a valuable PATA member and partner since 1959 and 2017 respectively and we look forward to the opportunity of showcasing the culture, heritage and beauty of Langkawi. Delegates to PTM 2018 will experience one of Asia’s most remarkable and attractive destinations.”
Tourism Malaysia Director General, Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab said, “Malaysia is proud and honoured to be given the opportunity to host another PATA event again, this time in the beautiful island of Langkawi. We are pleased to be co-hosts of PATA Travel Mart 2018 with Langkawi Development Authority and look forward to welcoming all PATA members to Malaysia for a fruitful and memorable meeting and networking session.”
Langkawi, described as the ‘Isle of Legends’ and ‘Jewel of Kedah’, is one of the world’s great paradise island getaways. A magnet for international eco-tourism, Langkawi was designated a Global Geopark by UNESCO. It is home to numerous tourist attractions and luxury hotels, yet it also retains its ‘old Malaysia’ charm.
Langkawi is the main island in an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea situated off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Part of the Malaysian state of Kedah, it lies south of Thailand and east of Indonesian Sumatra.

Pacific Asia Travel Association Elects New Executive Board

  New Executive Board of PATA

Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing Asia Pacific – TripAdvisor based in Hong Kong SAR has been elected as Chairperson of The Pacific Asia Travel Association Executive Board.
She replaces Andrew Jones who was elected Chairman in May 2016 and who remains a member of the Executive Board as Immediate Past Chairman. Sarah has been an active PATA member since TripAdvisor joined the Association in 2012, attending nearly all PATA events as either a speaker or delegate.
She first joined the PATA Executive Board when she was elected the Industry Council Chairperson in 2014 and was elected Vice Chairperson in May 2016. Sarah uses her travels across the Asia Pacific region to encourage new destinations and other industry businesses to join the Association.
On her appointment, Ms. Mathews said, “I’m honoured to take on the role of Chairperson for PATA’s Executive Board 2017/2018. Our executive board this year is an example of PATA’s diversity and expertise. With experts from both the private and public side on this year’s board we will continue the efforts of PATA across the world.
Born and raised in Hong Kong SAR, Sarah has also lived in Beijing and Australia and is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, giving her a deep understanding and appreciation of the region.

WTM Africa Sees Huge Increase in Numbers

  Nick Pilbeam
Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions

World Travel Market (WTM) Africa 2017, which was held in Cape Town recently, recorded a 17% increase in travel professionals and media, and a 9% increase in registered travel agents, with 21 different African countries represented. The total number of countries represented grew to 38, up 5.2%. Overall, there were 650 exhibitors. The WTM Portfolio altogether is set to smash last year’s achievement of $7 billion worldwide industry deals after posting impressive visitor increases at its recent 2017 events – WTM Latin America, WTM Africa and Arabian Travel Market.
All three events, which took place this spring, have recorded increases in numbers of exhibitors, visitors and meetings, while early indications are that 2017 is set to be a record-breaking event for business for WTM portfolio’s flagship exhibition, WTM London, in November.
Reed Travel Exhibitions, Director, Nick Pilbeam said: “The impressive growth at our three recently held events, WTM Latin America, WTM Africa and Arabian Travel Market, just goes to show the strength of the travel and tourism industry across the world. “It’s our aim to bring the global travel and tourism industry together and to facilitate business to help the industry grow.
“The success of initiatives such as our Buyers’ Clubs, speed networking, dedicated lounges and our events programmes that focus on the key industry issues, makes the WTM portfolio shows must-attend events for everyone who wants to do business in the travel and tourism industry.”

Minister Bartlett launches Devon House in Jamaica

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (right) sampling the Devon Tropical Ice from Coco Raw with Chairperson of the Gastronomy Network, Nicola Madden-Greig and Senior Technical Director of the Ministry of Tourism, David Dobson.
The city of Kingston is poised for a culinary renaissance with Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett’s launch of Devon House as Jamaica’s first center of gastronomy.
This declaration was made at an official event recently on the lawns of the historic mansion.
Minister Bartlett shared that “Devon House was selected because it is unique in its own offerings, it represents a piece of our history, a part of our heritage and it is in the center of commerce, entertainment and culture in the city of Kingston.”
He noted that while his Ministry was proud of the culinary experiences currently in place at Devon House, his vision for the historic site included more interactive experiences for both visitors and locals to enjoy.
“We are going to be establishing here, the first Gastronomy Club, and we will be building a special kitchen which will be marketed to visitors across the world to come to Devon House to cook. So, you can bring your family on a Sunday afternoon, cooking with fresh ingredients from the farmers market we will be building here very soon,” said the Minister.
The Minister also disclosed that his Ministry also has plans to establish food stations – a concept which will allow tourists and visitors alike a unique opportunity to sample a variety of authentic Jamaican cuisine in a convenient way.
“Patrons will start at the beginning, pay for the experience, then sample as you go along. They will then visit each station which will feature a different dish – so nobody would be expected to buy a full dish from any one person.
It will allow for the ‘little people,’ so to speak, in our country to have a chance to benefit from tourism,” he said.