A holistic approach to environmental protection is necessary if tourism is to help the world achieve its development goals. That was the message of top speakers at a keynote session of the 10th Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF) today.
The three-day event, being held at the Galaxy International Convention Centre, convenes tourism officials, industry players and researchers as they explore pressing issues facing the travel trade.
The first session was entitled “Towards Destination 2030: Investing in People, Planet and Prosperity.”
Addressing delegates, Brazil’s tourism minister Celso Sabino de Oliveira, said “We cannot separate the environmental sustainability and the economic sustainability,” and gave as an example Brazil’s efforts in protecting the Amazon rainforest.
“It means we also think about how to protect the environment but also the indigenous people living near the river or the forest. We need to understand that the river and the forest are the livelihood they depend on,” de Oliveira said.
[See more: The Global Tourism Economy Forum gets underway]
Nuno Fazenda, Portugal’s tourism minister, agreed on a broad strategy. “We cannot just focus on the policy of tourism, not just think about hotels, because tourism includes more than that,” he said. “It includes land, protecting the cultural heritage, the natural scenery, and at the same time we need to have some financial resources to enable businesses to face climate change.”
Rosana Morillo, Spain’s deputy minister of tourism, stressed the “holistic approach,” saying “We are not just talking about the environment. We are talking about economic sustainability … Without the collaboration and the joint forces between the public, private sectors and government, there won’t be sustainability in the future.”
For Natalia Bayona the UNWTO’s executive director, education is key. “To create quality and affordable education for everybody is a priority,” she said. “If we can’t invest in people, we won’t have the right workforce to survive in the future.”
The GTEF is jointly organised by the Macao government and UNWTO, with the support of the China Chamber of Tourism and the Macao Government Tourism Office.
An affiliated event, the GTEF Investment and Financing Conference, runs concurrently.
– With reporting by Gilbert Humphrey