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Greece-led OECD Meeting Urges Sustainable, Social Inclusive Tourism Practices

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) urged policy-makers on Tuesday to promote “ecologically sustainable and socially inclusive” tourism practices during a two-day high level tourism committee meeting in Paris, chaired by Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.

The October 2-3 Paris event, which celebrated its 100th meeting, was attended by some 200 ministers, government officials and industry representatives from 45 countries. Their aim was to explore ways to better manage the sector’s vigorous growth and formulate future policies. This was the first time Greece chaired the OECD’s tourism committee’s meeting.

Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria.

“Rethinking the tourism model involves improving the tourist’s experience, better managing the impacts of tourism and encouraging positive spill-over effects on the wider economy,” the OECD said in a statement.

“Tourism policy should ensure that it contributes to economic growth that is shared broadly across society and improves the well-being of citizens.”

Pointing to the impact of tourist inflows at a number of heavily-visited destinations and to the backlash in public opinion, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said tourism was “a bright spot in a still sluggish global economy but the sector faces considerable challenges”.

Inaugurating the committee proceedings, Kountoura invited ministers, the public and private sectors to actively participate in the dialogue on sustainable tourism development, stressing that tourism should be high on all government agendas as it promotes growth, involves other productive sectors and distributes the benefits to local communities.

OECD adopts Policy Statement on tourism policies

During the meeting, Kountoura presented the “Policy Statement on Tourism Policies for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth”, adopted by the ministers and other representatives of OECD members.

According to their statement, the ministers and other participants agreed that tourism policy required a whole-of-government approach but also recognised the value of dialogue with industry, social partners, academia and other civil society representatives in developing, implementing and monitoring policy.

“Governments should strive to further develop integrated and coherent tourism policy responses that reflect the circumstances of individual countries and local communities,” the statement says.

In the statement it is underlined that long-term strategies and policies focused on promoting quality employment and job creation, skills development, entrepreneurship, innovation, effective investment, and integrated regional development, are integral to achieving sustainable and inclusive tourism growth. “Growth that takes into account current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, and addresses the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Kountoura met with Gurria on the sidelines of the event and discussed strengthening Greece’s collaboration the OECD. Gurría said Greece was working effectively towards its promotion as a leading all-year destination and was emerging as a world force in tourism.

In 35 OECD countries, tourism contributed on average 4.1 percent of GDP, 5.9 percent of employment and 21.3 percent of service exports, according to OECD estimates.

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