Portugal has committed to partnering with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The commitment was presented to UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, during his recent official visit to Portugal. Among the initiatives to celebrate the Year, Portugal is promoting the rehabilitation of historical buildings in the interior of the country and routes through natural areas.
On the occasion, Mr. Rifai and Portuguese authorities discussed the role of tourism in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the contribution of tourism to job creation and economic growth in Portugal.
Meeting with Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Mr Rifai addressed the mechanisms of coordination among Ministries to advance tourism development in the country as well as issues of air transport and the relevance of new source markets such as China.
Mr Rifai also met President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, with whom he discussed the importance of raising the public visibility of the socio-economic impact of tourism.
Tourism and the SDGs and visa facilitation were on the agenda of the meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Santos Silva. Meeting with the Minister of Economy, Caldeira Cabral, and the Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, Mr. Rifai discussed Portugal’s “Revive” Program aimed at promoting the rehabilitation of historic buildings through private sector investment, as well as the policies in place to promote the regional spread of tourism and fight seasonality.
The visit included the presentation of Portugal 4.0, a project aimed at promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the tourism sector and one of the finalists of the 2016 UNWTO Awards.
Mr. Rifai also visited Madeira, whose Secretary of Economy, Tourism and Culture Eduardo Jesus presented UNWTO with Madeira’s regional tourism strategy. Issues in discussion included the project “Porto Santo free Fossil Island”.
During his stay in Madeira, Mr Rifai welcomed five hotel chains (Quinta do Furão, Savoy Hotels & Resorts, Pestana Hotel Group, Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts and FourViews Hotels) which joined the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics, pledging to implement and promote the principles of the Code and report on their actions.
To date, 499 companies and associations from 67 countries – from airlines and hotels, to tour operators and associations – have committed to uphold ethical standards and live by the Code in their operations.