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Global City Leaders Adopt Smart Cities

City leaders from around the world have met in the Kazakh capital of Nur–Sultan for the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Urban Tourism Summit. The Summit enjoyed the highest level of political support, with the President of Kazakhstan Kassym–Jomart Tokayev meeting with the Secretary–General of UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili ahead of the official opening which was led by Prime Minister Askar Mamin and the Mayor of Nursultan Altay Kulginov

Kassym–Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan
Askar Mamin, Prime Minister, Kazakhstan
Altay Kulginov, Mayor of Nursultan
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary–General UNWTO

In line with the United Nations New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the 8th edition of the UNWTO Global Urban Tourism Summit focused on the concept of "Smart Cities, Smart Destinations". Representatives from more than 80 countries, including 10 mayors, deputy–mayors as well as ministers of tourism and representatives of the private sector, explored how developing smart city destinations can contribute to addressing complex urban tourism challenges faced today across the world.

Across two days, discussions focused on the 'five pillars' of smart destinations – innovation, technology, accessibility, sustainability and governance. Building on this, national and city representatives at the Summit officially adopted the Nur–Sultan Declaration on 'Smart Cities, Smart Destinations'. The Declaration recognizes the growing popularity of cities as tourist destinations and their potential to drive socio–economic development and promote and preserve unique culture.

EBRD and UNWTO Promote Sustainable Development Goals

The EBRD and the UNWTO are joining forces to strengthen sustainable and inclusive tourism as a tool for achieving growth and development

(L-R)Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary–General UNWTO and Suma Chakrabart, President EBRD

Under an MoU, signed by EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti and UNWTO Secretary–General Zurab Pololikashvili at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, the two institutions pledge to work together in promoting and fostering tourism for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The MoU is also aligned with the new property and tourism strategy the EBRD published yesterday.

In particular, the EBRD and UNWTO are looking for ways to strengthen the role of the tourism sector for social, economic and environmental development for regional integration and economic diversification. Fostering education and training in tourism for job creation and socioeconomic inclusion, by adopting the best practices to increase and improve skillsets in the sector, is a key priority for both the EBRD and UNWTO.

Regulation Catches Up With Innovation

Drawing on 21 global case studies, the new UNWTO report notes that most of the measures implemented refer to areas of 'fair competition' and 'consumer protection', specifically measures related to taxation and registration and permits In comparison, measures relating to 'planning and sustainability', are less commonplace. At the same time, the report highlights the challenges destinations face in implementing rules and regulations, with a lack of local capacity and a lack of clarity over whose responsibility it is to monitor and regulate short–term tourist accommodation.

Commenting, UNWTO Secretary–General Zurab Pololikashvili said: "There are significantly more regulations than we thought and it is encouraging to see destinations taking the initiative. However, many challenges remain, including the practical implementation of rules and regulations relating to the short–term tourist rental market. Good governance and effective cooperation between the public and private sectors are key to successfully meeting these challenges."

Growth in International Arrivals Asia–Pacific


Updated data for foreign arrivals into 46 Asia Pacific destinations confirmed the overall continuation of solid growth in 2018, achieving a 7.3% annual increase compared to 2017 and reaching a new record high of nearly 708 million international visitor arrivals (IVAs).

When adjusted for Guam and Hawaii – which appear twice, once as individual destinations and again as inclusions in the USA figures – the Asia Pacific aggregate performance still indicated an year–on–year increase of 7.3% in 2018 with a similar record high of close to 697 million IVAs.

International Inbound Travel 2018

According to the Annual Travel Monitor 2019 Final Edition (ATM) released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today, over the five years between 2014 and 2018, the 46 Asia Pacific destinations covered in the report have collectively seen their IVAs increase by almost 24%, adding more than 136 million additional arrivals to the collective foreign inbound count in the process.

In percentage increase terms between 2017 and 2018, Asia had the strongest annual increase at 8.7%, followed by the Pacific at four percent and the Americas at 3.5%. By annual increase in the absolute volume of foreign arrivals between 2017 and 2018 however, these positions changed somewhat, with Asia receiving close to 41.6 million additional foreign arrivals, followed by the Americas with a gain of over 5.4 million and the Pacific with just over one million additional foreign arrivals received over that period.

(For full story read SAFARI INDIA)