UNWTO Europe Meeting discusses digitalization and new business models
Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, this week hosted representatives of 34 countries for the 60th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe. Discussions focused on major tourism trends and the priorities and agenda of the Organization for the region. The meeting was followed by a seminar on new business models.
"Although the sector continues to progress, many challenges face us. These include a rapidly changing consumer market, the impact of technology, the emergence of new business models, manmade and natural crises, and the quest to make our sector more sustainable and more responsible," he added.
"Tourism in Lithuania has large growth potential and after this event we have even more stimulus to keep promoting our country and look for new possibilities to support tourism," said Evaldas Gustas, Minister of Economy of Lithuania and Vice-Chair of the UNWTO Commission for Europe.
Safe, secure and seamless travel, the role of tourism in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in 2017 were discussed at the Commission meeting.
The following seminar explored the impacts of new business models, and in particular of the so-called 'sharing economy', on the tourism sector, and how 'traditional' businesses are responding. Speakers included BeMyGuest, the Lithuanian Hotels and Restaurants Association, Room Mate Hotels, TripAdvisor, ReviewPro, HOTREC, NBTC Holland Marketing, the European Commission, the Tourism Chamber of the Republic of Lithuania and Airbnb. Participants agreed that the opportunities afforded by new business models should be embraced but that measures should be taken to ensure both a level playing field and the protection of consumers.
On the occasion of his visit to Lithuania, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai met Lithuanian private sector representatives and the Chamber of Commerce. "Sustainable measures and other tourism policies should be applicable to all business models, so that all stakeholders across the value chain hold the same level of responsibility with regard to the sector," said Mr Rifai. "Only by working in cooperation and by building bridges will the tourism community be able to capitalize on the strong potential of the sector," he added.
In 2015, Europe remains the world's most visited region with 609 million international tourist arrivals (51% of the world's total). International tourism generated 404 billion euros in exports, 3% more than in 2014.
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About World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism"s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world. UNWTO"s membership includes 156 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 400 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. For more information visit www.unwto.org.