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06 May 2022

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

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In the interview, Zurab Pololikashvili said that the WTO will always support initiatives such as Global Mobility Call to advance “sustainable mobility tourism, generating a significant and positive impact on the environment”.

  1. What role does tourism play in developing a more sustainable mobility in the world?

Tourism plays a fundamental role in contributing to the preservation and conservation of the environment, providing optimal use of environmental resources, achieving lower-emissions travel and protecting biodiversity, as a fundamental element of sustainable development.

  1. Transportation is one of the main lines of tourism activity, but it is also one of the sectors aiming for decarbonisation; how do you think this process should unfold without affecting tourism?

This process should be implemented at all times in a cross-sectional cooperation between the transportation and tourism sectors, so that tourism activity is truly transformed and participates in climate actions.

To this end, the WTO issued the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism: A commitment to a decade of climate action for each sector area. The 520 signatories of the Declaration that we registered by late April (tourism companies, destinations, civil society organisations, media) undertake to accelerate their climate action by reducing their emissions by half by 2030 and reaching zero-emissions by 2050, at the latest.

  1. In recent years the WTO has worked on plans for more sustainable tourism; what aspects refer to mobility?

The WTO is leading the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program, with the French and Spanish governments as co-directors, and in collaboration with the United Nations Program for the Environment. This initiative includes recommendations for the Transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy, which was accepted in May 2021 by the Ministers of Tourism of the G20.

  1. Could you tell us some well-known examples of WTO affiliates who have progressed in sustainable development?

IBERIA (Spain): The Iberia Group, CEPSA and Iberia Express have signed a strategic agreement with the goal to decarbonise air transportation. The agreement contemplates other energy alternatives, such as renewable hydrogen and electricity, to promote sustainable mobility for airplanes and ground fleets. Further information Here

IATA (Switzerland): In October 2021 the IATA members approved a resolution in their General Assembly whereby they undertook to eliminate carbon emissions from their operations by 2050. Further information Here   

ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (Japan): In October 2021 they launched the SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) Flight Initiative, in collaboration with leading industry companies, with the aim to promote sustainability and reduce CO2 emissions. Further information Here

MSC Cruises (Switzerland): they have developed a sustainability program based on reducing the environmental footprint of cruises, promoting diversity and inclusion, ensuring positive impact for local coastal communities and responsible and sustainable sourcing of products and services. Further information Here

IFEMA MADRID (Spain): will host the Global Mobility Call Congress, from the 14-16 June 2022. The goal is to revitalise the effective use of the European recovery funds within the Spanish mobility field based on sustainability.

DUY TAN UNIVERSITY (Vietnam): at Q3 they are going to organise a themed Conference, backed by AMD/OMT and included in the AMD Work Programme 2022, on sustainable mobility, accessibility and responsible tourism. The focus will be on generating knowledge and sharing ideas on low carbon emission transportation systems.

  1. One of the goals of Global Mobility Call is to place Spain, and Madrid, where the main office of the WTO is based, as an international reference for sustainable mobility. What synergies do you think the WTO may establish with GMC over the long-term?

The World Tourism Organisation will always back initiatives such as Global Mobility Call, that promote sustainable mobility tourism so that it generates a significant impact on the quality of air, water, health and culture.