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UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit to Debate ‘Overtourism’

UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit to Debate ‘Overtourism’

The UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit will debate so-called ‘overtourism’ at WTM London on Tuesday 7th November 2017. ‘Overtourism’ has become a hot topic in the news in recent months, with reports from around the world speaking of ‘tourism-phobia’ and showing pictures of citizens protesting against the ‘invasion of tourists’ and the expulsion of locals by tourism businesses.

“Managing the growing number of visitors to many popular areas of our planet, including cities, is crucial for both hosts and visitors, both international and domestic,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Growth is not the enemy. Growing numbers are not the enemy. Growth is the eternal story of mankind. Tourism growth can and should lead to economic prosperity, jobs and resources to fund environmental protection and cultural preservation, as well as community development and progress needs, which would otherwise not be available. Yet ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike, demands strong, sustainable tourism policies, practices, and the engagement of national, as well as local, governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves.”

The topic will also be the key theme of World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world – on Wednesday 8th November, and will feature throughout the responsible tourism programme across all three days of WTM London.

More than 1.2 billion international tourists crossed the globe in 2016 and this is expected to grow to 1.8 billion by 2030. Tourism generates 10% of the world’s gross domestic product, is responsible for one in every 10 jobs and 30% of world trade in services, making it central to many countries’ economies and people’s livelihoods.

Furthermore, 2017 is the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The sustainable tourism sector is one that promotes environmental preservation and protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and promotes the engagement, commitment and respect for local communities.

The Summit will discuss how managing the growth of visitors to many popular destinations is critical for both hosts and visitors. It will look at how tourism growth and sustainability can and should go hand in hand.

Simon Press, Senior Director, WTM London, said: “The so-called ‘overtourism’ is the key issue in the industry at the moment, so it is right that ministers and senior private sector leaders debate the topic as part of the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit. In previous years, the summits have offered insights into issues such as terrorism, crisis management, seamless travel, social media, branding and the legacy of ‘mega-events’ such as the World Cup and Olympics.

“This year’s Summit will discuss ‘overtourism’, the impact it is having on tourists, destinations and local residents, and look for solutions to help minimise the problem.

“WTM London is the only forum offering so many ministers alongside senior industry leaders to discuss the big issues affecting the global tourism business.”

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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