Tourism and aviation sectors to align policies

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A new global agreement has been reached aimed at aligning the policies and goals of the tourism and aviation sectors.

The new joint statement on “Tourism and Air Transport for Development” was announced by the UNWTO and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at the 21st UNWTO General Assembly in Colombia this week. In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the agreement highlights the “potential of air transport and tourism to improving socio-economic prosperity and promot[ing] sustainable development”.

UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, addresses delegates at the 21st General Assembly
UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, addresses delegates at the 21st General Assembly

“With increased connectivity warranting long-term growth for aviation and tourism, our interlinked sectors represent lasting opportunities for socio-economic development,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.

“Yet if we are to harness these benefits, tourism and air transport must address persisting divergent policies and work towards 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,” he added.

ICAO secretary-general, Dr Fang Liu, said that “great benefits” can be derived from optimising the links between air transport and tourism.

“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,” Dr Fang said.

The policy-makers and regulators at the forum also discussed challenges relating to policy convergence, the need for enhanced connectivity, market access, air transport competitiveness and travel facilitation, such as visas.

“ICAO and the UNWTO have been actively engaged for some time in maximising the cooperative opportunities for aviation and tourism,” said ICAO Council president, Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. “These efforts… are critical to realising both the long-term economic growth and prosperity benefits for states and the related targets in the UN SDGs.”

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