Innovation, partnerships and managing rising tourist numbers have been top of the agenda at the 64th Meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional Commission for Europe, held in Zagreb, Croatia this week (27-30 May).
Croatia was unanimously chosen to host the annual meeting of the tourism ministers of UNWTO Member States in Europe. The country is one of the region’s tourism destinations, welcoming 20 million international arrivals in 2018, a 6.7% increase on the previous year. A strong partner of UNWTO, the country is home to the Zagreb Sustainable Tourism Observatory, part of the global UNWTO Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories.
The meeting was attended by representatives of more than 40 Member States, a record level of high-level participation for the Regional Commission for Europe. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to thank him for Croatia’s commitment to sustainable tourism. Mr Pololikashvili also met with Ms. Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and with Croatia’s Minister of Tourism, Gari Capelli, for high-level discussions on destination management and sustainability.
“It is so encouraging to see not just so many ministers joining us here in Zagreb, but to also witness the genuine enthusiasm our European Member States have for managing tourism and harnessing it as a driver of sustainable development”, Mr Pololikashvili says. “Regional and international cooperation is vital to face up to the challenges linked to tourist numbers, especially in urban areas. This week’s meeting in Zagreb proves the desire to make tourism a force for good.”
Croatia’s Minister of Tourism, Gari Capelli, added that “Croatia is extremely proud and honored to be hosting this meeting. Tourism is an engine for many innovative and developmental processes, a creative force for new jobs and a tool for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. This is a great opportunity to jointly guide trends and policies in the right direction. I am confident that together we will continue finding the right answers to all open questions and consolidate the path of responsible, sustainable and ethical tourism”, he added.
In the context of the ministerial meeting, public and private sectors gathered for a special workshop on Growth, Innovation, and Partnerships. UNWTO Affiliate Members including Amadeus, ICCA, Niantic, and Google, presented products aimed at improving tourism management and sustainability.
Furthermore, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili met with Davor Suker, President of the Croatian Football Federation, to discuss the opportunities presented by the growing market for sports tourism.