UNWTO has celebrated the biggest Ministers Summit on record as it brought tourism leaders together on the opening day of the World Travel Market in London to focus on education and skills development.
Welcoming a record 40 Ministers of Tourism, representing every global region and destinations of all sizes, UNWTO Executive Director Natalia Bayona underscored the vital importance of investing in education. The Summit, hosted at WTM for the 17th time, also featured inputs from key private sector players and from co-organizer the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Education for a better tourism
According to UNWTO “with 1.2 billion people worldwide aged between 15 to 24, tourism can establish itself as a top employer of youth and driver of youth empowerment. However, according to the Office for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) around 10% of that demographic are unemployed and 14% hold only basic qualifications.”
United Kingdom’s Minister for Tourism, Sir John Whittingdale, stressed the importance of platforms like the Ministers Summit to provide a dialogue on how different countries are tackling common challenges, including advancing tourism education. With more than double the number of Ministerial-level participants than 2022 highlighting the strong interest in the topic, participants shared their insights on the place of education in the future of tourism.
The Ministers of South Africa, Egypt, the Philippines and Jordan all made clear the importance of supporting education at every stage. For example, South Africa has launched a tourism equity fund to bridge the gap. Also, the Ministers from Mauritius, Malta and Indonesia stressed the vital need to upskill new and existing tourism workers.
Highlighting the vital importance of education for tourism sustainability, the Minister for Colombia outlined “how the sector is bringing peace, jobs and youth opportunity to areas afflicted by insecurity”, while Ethiopia shared “its work investing in young people as well as in tourism infrastructure.”
On the back of the expert inputs from tourism leaders from every global region, Ministers were able to take away key lessons from the London Summit. Chief among them was the shared nature of the challenges facing destinations everywhere, with a common need for more and better-skilled workers.
Concluding, UNWTO Executive Director Natalia Bayona noted the urgent need “to make tourism an aspirational sector for young people everywhere, with public-private partnerships essentially for bringing the current skills gap in the sector.”