His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain administered the event celebrating the inauguration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The function was attended by ministers of tourism from around the world. The ceremony featured tourism’s immense potential to assist in the development of all countries within the structure of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to fulfil the demand to progress towards a sustainably more efficient sector that creates benefits to local communities and advocates the conservation of cultural values and local heritage.
The UNWTO Secretary-General highlighted the on-going development of tourism since the beginning of the crisis and asserted the importance in moving towards more sustainable tourism in all its aspects. He mentioned that “in 2016, more than 1.2 billion people travelled around the world for tourism purposes and another 6 billion people travelled domestically”
“In parallel with the growth of the sector, there is also increased responsibility to advance towards greater sustainability, equity, inclusiveness and peace in our societies,” he added.
His Majesty King Felipe VI mentioned in his speech that “there are many reasons for declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, such as greater appreciation of different cultures and thus peace among peoples”.
He also stated that “To have been chosen as the host country for the launch of the International Year is an acknowledgement of Spain’s commitment in areas such as ecotourism, cultural tourism and agrotourism initiatives,”.
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 was announced in December 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Year was also showcased in Madrid on the opening day of FITUR, marking an important breakthrough in the 2030 Agenda and in the growth in the success of the set Sustainable Development Goals.
The event held in the El Pardo Palace in Madrid, Spain was attended by more than 40 tourism ministers and other senior officials from 57 countries. Special guests of note include the Prime Minister of Georgia and the Vice-President of Honduras.