September 18 2019

The 23rd Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (9 - 13 September 2019) has drawn to a close in St Petersburg after days of debate and discussion which saw 2150 industry representatives from 138 countries. The assembly was chaired by the Russian Federation. The event was organized by the Federal Tourism Agency of the Russian Federation together with the Government of St. Petersburg and the Roscongress Foundation.

«I am sure that after a series of large-scale international events that recently took place in Russia, our Assembly is a logical continuation of the tourism related history. This will undoubtedly change the image of Russia and increase its attractiveness for tourists - although St. Petersburg does not need advertising. I repeat, I’m sure that all participants will definitely talk about their hospitality and they will definitely want to return here with friends and families, » said Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Within the framework of the Assembly, more than 16 business events took place, the results of which will determine the principles of development of the global industry in the next two years. In addition to that new members of the executive committee were identified; at an evening at the Mariinsky Theater, participants were awarded for success in the tourism development.

«Tourism is an important sector of the economy. We restart tourism in our country, taking into account the most advanced trends. For us, as for the UNWTO, the priority is to increase the personnel potential of the industry, focus on independent travelers, innovations in tourism, » said the head of the Federal Tourism Agency of Russia Zarina Doguzova, «Russia is ready to increase participation and involvement in the work of the UNWTO in all key areas of the organization’s work, as well as support and develop joint projects. Right now we are working on the establishment of international tourism center under the auspices of the UNWTO to implement educational programs in tourism. This initiative was supported by the President of the Russian Federation. »

In another major step forward, and bringing UNWTO in line with the wider United Nations system, Member States unanimously agreed the adoption of the first ever Global Convention on Tourism Ethics. Pascal Lamy, the Chair of the World Committee of Tourism Ethics, who has long been advocating the transformation of the existing code of ethics of tourism said: "I congratulate the countries who took this historic decision to elevate ethics of tourism into a binding legal instrument. Globalization needs to be harnessed by principles that make it better, not worse, for humankind"

At the conclusion of the 23rd Session of the General Assembly, the Kingdom of Morocco was chosen as the host for the 24th Session. Again, in line with the wider United Nations system, electronic voting was introduced for the first time at a UNWTO General Assembly.

“These unifying international projects are important and organic for Russia since the country itself is at the crossroads of many cultures. Developing ties with the whole world and finding common points for contact with everyone who has arrived in our country is another important step for us. We are impressed by the large-scale approach and the effectiveness of the Assembly - surprisingly much has been done over the past few days. And more importantly, there is a clear plan of action for the future» noted advisor to the President of the Russian Federation Anton Kobyakov.

“St. Petersburg has already entered the top most interesting cities that are popular among tourists. World Travel Awards has recognized it as the Leading Cultural City Destination, the best European cultural and tourist destination, this year - Europe's Leading City Destination 2019. Now St. Petersburg needs to enter the “top” in terms of tourist flow and make tourism part of the city’s new specialization. We expect that the introduction of electronic visas on October 1st will allow the Northern capital to receive 12 million people in 2024 - one and a half times more than now. to St. Petersburg due to visa. We also plan to develop domestic tourism by expanding direct flights with Russian regions, » said Acting Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov.

Simultaneously with the General Assembly, the Saint Petersburg Travel Hub was held. Located at the Expoforum, it was attended by over 800 representatives of the tourism industry.

The business program of the forum was complemented by a large-scale exposition of Saint Petersburg Travel Hub, at which 33 regions of the Russian Federation presented exceptional tourist products. «Petersburg is a modern city that can attract with its unique architecture tourists of various ages. Most importantly, the city is open for cooperation with all Russian regions and takes part in inter-regional tourism projects, ”said the Chair of the Committee for Tourism Development, Evgeny Pankevich.

In addition, Saint Petersburg Travel Hub has become an effective business platform for meetings and incentives. St. Petersburg Tourist and Information Bureau agreed on cooperation to establish relations with two countries at once: Greece and Mexico. Representative offices of St. Petersburg will appear in these countries under the agreement. Also, Saint Petersburg ConventionBureau has signed cooperation agreements with the St. Petersburg Regional Sports Organization “Yacht Club of St. Petersburg” and with the company “Cultural Capital”.

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