UNWTO Unites South East Europe Tourism Ministers Around Shared Sustainability Goals
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently brought together tourism ministers from South East Europe and set the foundations for unprecedented high-level collaboration on projects in the region.
Held during the international FESTA forum in Tirana, Albania, the meeting was hosted by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and saw the first ever gathering of tourism ministers from eight countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – and explored opportunities for greater cooperation in the sector.
According to the UNWTO, participants agreed on plans to hold annual meetings of ministers and state secretaries to deliver better regional collaboration for tourism in the region.
Organized April 3-5 by the Ministry of Tourism and Environment of Albania in partnership with UNWTO, the three-day FESTA (The Future of Environmental Sustainable Tourism in Albania) forum brought together public and private sector leaders to focus on the challenges and opportunities of sustainable travel.
Opening the Forum, Pololikashvili underscored the great progress that tourism has made in becoming more sustainable, while stressing that much more needs to be done.
“We must first focus on two priorities, namely people and investments, because without the right people or the proper investments, our plans for a transformed tourism will not get off the ground,” he said.
Further emphasising this policy priority, UNWTO’s leadership joined the Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj and Albanian Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro to lead high-level discussions focused on more and better-targeted investments in tourism. Expanding on the importance of strong and clear governance for advancing plans for greater sustainability across the tourism sector.
Tourism and the European Green Deal
Within the framework of FESTA, Pololikashvili met with Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans to discuss tourism’s role in advancing the European Green Deal, which he leads. UNWTO is spearheading tourism’s shift to greater sustainability, including through the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative.