Medellín, September 14, 2015 (SIG).
The President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, stated this Monday that peace will be built from tourism and for tourism, while highlighting the benefits that the end of the Colombian armed conflict will bring to this sector.
Speaking before the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held in Medellín, the Colombian Head of State said that one of the sectors that will benefit the most from obtaining peace will be precisely tourism.
“If Colombia offers so much, if Colombia has so much to offer, if Colombia enjoys so much, because we are one of the happiest countries in the world, if we have the economy that is growing the most in the region, the one that is producing the best social indicators in spite of this situation, just imagine the potential, this country’s potential when we manage to sign and consolidate peace. And we will also build that peace from tourism and for tourism”, the President said.
“With peace, tourism may probably be the industry that will benefit the most, because –we cannot deny it- there are still a lot of people who will not come because of the simple fact that we are still one of the countries in the list of those who are living with an internal armed conflict”, the Head of State added.
Elaborating on that statement, he mentioned the example of Sri Lanka, a country that saw a considerable increase in its tourism once it brought its armed conflict to an end.
“I give you a simple example of the way in which peace can increase tourism activities: in Sri Lanka, after ending its armed conflict, tourism sky-rocketed; it grew 34 percent in just one year. And I am sure that something of that sort will take place in Colombia”, he said.
In concluding, the President of the Republic explained that peace “will multiply the opportunities, and all that energy and efforts that are devoted to the war will be destined to social programs, more citizen security and infrastructure works that will turn Colombia into an even more attractive country”.
President Juan Manuel Santos celebrated the fact that the UNWTO is meeting in Medellín, and pointed out that this is the second time it chooses Colombia, since the Assembly also met in Cartagena in 2007.
The meeting featured the participation of the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, who praised the efforts of the Colombian Government in seeking peace.
During this event, held at the Plaza Mayor Convention Center in the capital of the Department of Antioquia, Taleb Rifai was decorated by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Cecilia Álvarez-Correa, with the Medal for Touristic Merit.
The UNWTO is the United Nations’ body in charge of promoting responsible, sustainable and easily accessible tourism for all.
Message from the United Nation’s Secretary General to the UNWTO Assembly
In turn, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki–moon, sent a thank you message to the UNWTO Assembly.
“Thank you again for being an active Member of the UN System and for your efforts to guide the tourism sector in becoming a force for peace and sustainable development for all”, the UN Secretary General said in his message.
Following is the full message:
“I am delighted to greet the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
You meet at a critical moment as world leaders move towards the adoption of an inspiring new sustainable development agenda and a meaningful universal agreement on climate change.
As one of the largest – and fastest growing – sectors of the world economy, tourism makes vital contributions to employment generation, poverty reduction, women´s empowerment, environmental preservation and peace building. Our shared challenge is to realize even more of tourism´s great potential.
I am pleased that UNWTO is actively engaged in various important processes of the United Nations System, in particular those focused on Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries. UNWTO’s increasing role with respect to the global security agenda is also greatly appreciated.
I welcome your focus at this Session on fostering inclusive development and social transformation. Looking ahead, I will count on your full involvement in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals which include, for the first time ever, targets related to sustainable tourism.
Thank you again for being an active Member of the UN System and for your efforts to guide the tourism sector in becoming a force for peace and sustainable development for all. Please accept my best wishes for a successful mission.
Muchas gracias, thank you”.