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World Travel Market to Host UNWTO Summit on Tourism & Climate Change

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LONDON—World Travel Market will host a major United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ministers’ Summit on Tourism and Climate Change, a key part of an international program to widen and deepen the debate on one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. Ministers will be asked to consider and ratify a Declaration recommended by environmental experts at the UNWTO’s Summit on Climate Change in Davos, Switzerland in October.

The Ministerial Declaration is to be put to the UNWTO’s General Assembly at the end of November and will be a major aspect of the organization’s submission to the U.N.’s Bali Climate Summit in December 2007. UNWTO Secretary General General Francesco Frangialli called it “the most important and intensive tourism industry analysis on climate ever undertaken and a key component of the overall global response to an issue, which is, together with poverty alleviation, the challenge of our times.”

The Ministers’ Summit on Tuesday, November 13 at ExCeL London forms part of World Travel Market’s Ministers’ Program, which is now in its third year. Fiona Jeffery, World Travel Market’s chairman, said that World Travel Market is an appropriate event for such a significant initiative to take place.

History of Environmental Interest

“Over the past 13 years, World Travel Market has become an established business platform on environmental issues,” Jeffery said. “Environmental concerns and humanitarian and community issues have been embraced in World Travel Market’s original Environmental Awareness Day and later with Responsible Tourism Day. At the same time, the UNWTO has identified extreme poverty and climate change as two of the most trenchant issues with truly global impact. It is therefore highly appropriate and right that the UNWTO and World Travel Market work together.

“This is a high level event that we hope will make a meaningful contribution to the discussion on the impact of climate change and its knock-on effect on travel and tourism,” Jeffery added. “It is important to remember that tourism is not just a potential victim of climate change—although that in itself is of grave concern—but also contributes to its causes. Every one of us has to be concerned, involved and committed to protecting our world and our industry, not only for now, but for future generations.”

“We are delighted that World Travel Market is supporting this event,” says UNWTO spokesperson Geoffrey Lipman. “We believe that UNWTO has a unique opportunity to add to the global decision making process on this critical matter of climate response. We plan to do this in a way that reflects key issues of importance to the public and private sector players who we represent, as well as destinations and travelers themselves. We will also ensure that there is a real coherence between climate change solutions and the Millennium Development Goals, as they apply to our sector.”

The Summit on Tourism and Climate Change is to be held on the eve of the first ever WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, again in association with the UNWTO, on Wednesday, November 14. The day, supported by many well known figures in the private and public sector, including Sir Richard Branson and Professor David Bellamy, is the world’s most ambitious international day of industry action. It is a unique opportunity for governments, the travel industry, local communities and travelers to show that it is practical contributions that count, not just talk.

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