At the invitation of the Republic of South Africa, the T.20 tourism ministers and high officials convened in Johannesburg for a first meeting to discuss the role of tourism in stimulating the global economy, at a time when the world starts to emerge from an unprecedented global economic recession, which impacted on all economic sectors, including tourism.
The T.20 Ministers' Meeting is a member-driven initiative, acting as a forum for the growth and development of sustainable tourism by promoting dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and best practices amongst the T.20 economies.
The meeting had the full support of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and was enriched by expert contributions from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC). The meeting:
- Considered travel and tourism to be an important sector of the global economy, representing a direct contribution of between 6% and 7% of the global gross domestic product, with an even higher contribution when tourism-related sectors are taken into consideration;
- stressed that the sector should be recognised as a significant economic and development driver nationally and on multilateral economic platforms;
- recognized that the sector plays an important role in employment in all countries of the world, providing 75 million direct jobs worldwide; has the capacity to accelerate job creation, and offers fast entry into the workforce, particularly for youth and women in urban and rural communities;
- understood that the sector is particularly important as a source of export revenue, contributing 30% of the world’s services exports, amounting to US$ 1 trillion a year, and 45% of the total services exports in developing countries;
- was mindful of the sector’s great potential to encourage the transformation towards a greener and more sustainable economy;
- took account of the sector’s ability to strengthen local economies, and promote and enhance local identities and cultural heritage to the benefit of future generations, and to build mutual understanding and tolerance between people in a stable and equitable world;
- expressed the belief that, in the context wherein the world economy is currently re-energising following the recession, the tourism sector’s contribution required for the global economic recovery stretches far and wide, and that growing an economically, environmentally as well as socially sustainable travel and tourism sector on an ethical basis can play a meaningful role to stimulate that growth, create jobs, develop infrastructure and rural economies, promote trade, alleviate poverty, and particularly facilitate development in the least developed and emerging economies;
- expressed the concern that, although the process of recovery is under way, this is still fragile and uneven, and growing gross domestic product and employment remain the key challenges; and was convinced that the economic crisis, and the coordinated international efforts that followed, demonstrated the importance of strengthened international cooperation and engagement to tackle global issues, and recognised, in this context, the need for tourism ministers and high officials to speak in a coordinated manner;
- Explored the synergies between strengthened global economic cooperation and the tourism sector's efforts to build resilience and stimulate new, sustained and responsible growth.
Following a constructive and future-oriented meeting, ministers and high officials concluded with the following recommendations:
- To strengthen the analytical base that underpins the economic and development case for travel and tourism
- To intensify collaboration to position tourism as a key driver of sustainable economic and social development
- To enhance the role of tourism to contribute towards creating new, decent employment opportunities, boosting trade, renewing infrastructure, and above all, accelerating ethical and sustainable development, thereby expanding the reach of the economic benefits of tourism to a larger segment of the world population
- To continue to examine broad international economic frameworks that have a significant impact on global tourism development
- To increase cooperation between countries, working closely with stakeholders, with a view to facilitating international movement of tourists, addressing restrictive travel barriers, and fostering mutual understanding and collaboration
- To engage and partner with the international community, including the UNWTO; G20; international and intergovernmental bodies such as UNEP, the ITC and ILO; private sector organisations and associations such as the WTTC; national governments and regional organisations, and the European Commission, in order to advance tourism’s role in stimulating the global economy, enhancing employment, creating decent jobs, alleviating poverty, supporting development, and transforming progressively into a greener, more sustainable economy
Ministers and high officials expressed their appreciation to the South African Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and the South African Government for the leadership in hosting the first T.20 Ministers’ Meeting, and to the Republic of Korea for their gracious invitation to convene the second T.20 Ministers' Meeting before November 2010 to review progress and continue this constructive dialogue.