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As world leaders meet to discuss a sustainable way out of the current economic crisis, many governments and decision makers still have some way to go before they recognize tourism as a sector which can be a relevant factor of the economic recovery.

Raising the profile of tourism in both the political and public perception is a critical element in increasing awareness of the sector’s economic potential as an efficient provider of employment and the way forward to the Green Economy.

Close to one billion international tourist arrivals per year generate millions of jobs. Travel and tourism is one of the few sectors that cuts across the economy mobilizing employment, investment and sustainable development opportunities for emerging economies.

“We are weathering the storm,” said UNWTO Assistant Secretary-General, Geoffrey Lipman. The global economic downturn has taken its toll on international tourism, “but we are resisting the worst that the deterioration of the market place is delivering. We will come back, stronger than we have been before, different than we have been as a sector, and those people who are understanding how to do this with us collectively, they will do it better.”

In this context, UNWTO collected different views to further mainstream travel and tourism in the global economic agenda – a challenge that UNWTO has been facing with increasing success:

Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Minister of Tourism: “(Unfortunately) today a lot of countries don’t understand how important tourism is. The most important thing is to solve today’s problems with solutions that will last and will pay back in the future.”

Pedro Ortún, Director of the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, European Commission: “If we are able to put together the public and the private actors at the global level, which is the dimension of the UNWTO, it could (help to overcome) the crisis.”

Jürgen Ringbeck, Senior Vice President - Booze and Co: “It is very sad to see how weak political support for the tourism sector is, specifically in the more developed countries. (Tourism) is the key platform to connect the world and transfer wealth from developed to developing countries.”

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