I would like to begin these remarks with a warm welcome to all the professionals, entrepreneurs, official delegations, citizens from around the world, who have come to Spain, and to Madrid, to participate in this very special edition of FITUR.
Our renowned International Tourism Fair can now take pride in its now four decades of existence; a time in which it has constantly excelled to perform above expectations. Therefore, we are happy to be here tonight and share this well-deserved anniversary celebration. It certainly owes to the vision, the concerted effort supported by the industry and public administrations, and the success of our tourism sector as a powerhouse for business development, economic growth and employment for our country and for the world.
I would like to acknowledge all of the Ministers of Tourism and other officials from so many countries who are honouring us with their presence, and whose interest in attending this event in our Nation’s Capital clearly shows how over the past four decades FITUR has become a must-see event. Many thanks to you and huge congratulations to IFEMA for this achievement: so many names to call out and distinguish, so many which are no longer with us… With all of them in mind, let us pay a warm tribute to an outstanding job, to a precious legacy... We are committed to continue the hard work, creatively, with an eye for innovation and a heart for environmental and social consciousness.
Spain is the host country for the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations specialized agency, and we are proud to support the UNWTO, not only because of our international standing in the tourism industry, but also our strong commitment to the UN family and to multilateralism. The Madrid Declaration on “Tourism in the 21st Century” incorporates the political, economic, social, employment and cultural dimensions of tourism into the context of the goals of the 2030 Agenda. I thank the UNWTO and its Sec.Gen. for preparing and delivering this important document.
For this edition of FITUR, the trade fair’s special guest country is Korea, since it is now 70 years ago that we established diplomatic relations between this nation and Spain. Likewise, Korea’s role this year highlights the importance of Asia as an emerging region in the tourism field. Indeed, Korea is now the 3rd largest source of Asian tourists visiting Spain. The Queen and I, just last October, were honoured and pleased to go Seoul on a State visit, invited by his Excellency President Moon Jae-in.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, creating one tenth of global jobs and GDP. This is a sector of our economies that has seen constant growth in recent decades; an industry that has gone from strength to strength, and which is expected to continue its growth worldwide. Moreover, fuelled by the emerging economies, it has bright prospects for growth in such areas as generating international tourists.
Tourism is a universal economic activity that involves societies having very different levels of development, and has an especially large impact in lower-income countries. It employs people with very basic training, as well as highly qualified professionals.
Moreover, beyond its role as an economic activity, tourism enables us to get to know other cultures, and experience other lifestyles. The motivations of tourists, of travellers, to have new experiences and to see new places and cultures are many —we could even say infinite. Tourism is an industry by people for people: it seeks to create leisure and wellbeing. Therefore, by gathering here to address tourism, we aspire to share a worldview, and we have the responsibility to influence positively the international scene by communicating our commitment to inclusive and sustainable progress.