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Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO)

“We've seen a noticeable increase in the number of tourists who demand unique and authentic experiences” “Extending tourism seasons and developing and promoting new destinations and sustainable activities not only alleviates pressure on cities and other popular destinations, it also helps to publicise even more the benefits that tourism can provide”, explained Zurab Pololikashvili. The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) explains in the interview below the evolution of the number of visitors and the main challenges for Spanish and worldwide tourism.

18 Jul 2019

How do you think Spanish and worldwide tourism will evolve in 2020?

We expect that international tourist arrivals will continue to increase between now and late 2020, as the sector continues to grow. Last year Europe recorded a 6% growth with the Southern European destinations, including Spain, among the main promoters of this upward trend. As all the other countries, and especially those that are also popular destinations, Spain will continue to enjoy the economic and social benefits that tourism entail, including creation of employment.

How do you see the increase in demand for unique experiences while travelling?

The WTO has also seen a noticeable increase in the number of tourists who demand unique and authentic travel experiences, which we believe that Spain has been providing. We trust that the sector will continue to evolve to meet these demands that are constantly changing and diversifying, with segments such as sports tourism or gastronomy tourism, which will probably continue to grow.

What are the greatest challenges for tourism in Spain and internationally?

Tourism has the potential to become a key element within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Managed properly, it can create more and better jobs, boost economic growth locally and nationally, and protect and promote the cultural and natural heritage.

The great challenge for the sector is to guarantee that this potential is realised, leaving no one behind, following the United Nations motto, with which we are linked as specialised agency of the UN for tourism. Good management and cooperation between the public and private sector, as well as using the power of entrepreneurial initiative and digital innovation will play a key role here.

How should tourism face the challenges entailed by an increase in the number of visitors?

The tourism sector should proactively tackle the challenges that an increased number of tourists may entail. Extending tourism seasons and developing and promoting new destinations and sustainable activities not only alleviates pressure on cities and other popular destinations, it also helps to publicise even more the benefits that tourism can provide.