UNWTO Executive Council's 100th session begins in Rovinj

ROVINJ, 28.5.2015.

Nearly 200 tourism officials and experts from about 40 countries gathered in Rovinj on Thursday for the 100th session of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council. 

The two-day session also marks UNWTO's 40 years. Croatia co-chairs the UNWTO Executive Council together with Mozambique, while Jamaica is the chair. Jamaican Tourism and Entertainment Minister Kenneth Wykeham McNeill said nothing could have prepared him for the beauty and hospitality he experienced in Croatia and its northern Adriatic resort of Rovinj.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said Croatia always surprised one with the progress in the quality of its tourism product. Twenty years ago it was hard to imagine that small Croatia would become one of the world's tourism leaders and everyone who is attending the session is indeed delighted by everything they have seen and many have said they will come again, he said. Rifai urged Croatia to pursue its tourism policies and development, saying this would quickly lead to even better tourism results. He said the number of foreign tourists globally was expected to continue to grow this year, by four percent from the 1.14 billion who travelled in 2014. It depends on all of us in world tourism, on our cooperation, networking, sustainable tourism policies and incentives whether we will view those billion tourists as an opportunity and obtain positive effects or something opposite, Rifai said.

Croatian Tourism Minister Darko Lorencin said Croatia had a tourism strategy whereby it planned to increase tourism revenues from the current EUR 7.5 billion to EUR 14 billion by 2020. It's an ambitious goal but not impossible because we are already heading that way, given the increasingly high investments in tourism and various projects, such as the prolongation of the season, which brought 20% more tourists in the first three months of this year than the last, he said.

Speaking to the press before the session, Lorencin said Croatia was making its tourism more competitive and that the development of new products and promotional campaigns would further contribute to that. We are trying to deal with seasonality, a shortcoming of Croatian tourism, with the "Croatia 365" project and next year we expect investments to exceed this year's EUR 500 million, which will result in higher revenues, the minister said.