UNWTO meeting in Rovinj best ever, Rifai says

ROVINJ, 29.5.2015.

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said on Friday the two-day 100th session of the UNWTO Executive Council in Rovinj, which brought together 200 tourism officials and experts from around the world, had been the best UNWTO session ever. Speaking at the final press conference of the event, he said the organisation had been at the highest level, thanking Croatian Tourism Minister Darko Lorencin for that.

Croatia has a strong tourism image, it's already a brand, and everyone from the world who came to Rovinj is absolutely satisfied and especially impressed by the people, the kindness, the culture, the service and the rest, Rifai said. He said the session discussed all important UNWTO activities for this year and the next, such as the organisation's budget, the code of ethics in tourism with an emphasis on the protection of children from violence, access to tourism for everyone, seasonality and ways of dealing with it, and a sharing economy, which is increasingly present in tourism. Rifai voiced confidence that foreign tourist arrivals and spending this year would grow 3-5% in comparison to the record year 2014, when more than 1.1 billion tourists travelled around the world, spending close to US$ 1,500 billion.

Jamaican Tourism and Entertainment Minister Kenneth Wykeham McNeill, who chairs the UNWTO Executive Council, commended the Croatian hosts for everything they had done for the participants in the session, saying the session had been very successful.

Lorencin said this had been a good opportunity to additionally promote Croatia, which proved itself as a European and world destination and that he held bilateral talks with many tourism leaders.

Asked by the press to comment on war veterans' protests in Zagreb, Rifai said protests were a democratic right and that they occurred in many countries. I don't think this will undermine Croatia's image in terms of tourism. Last year there were frequent protests in Madrid, the UNWTO's headquarters. I saw them in New York this year too, but passengers don't stop travelling around the world because of that because it happens in their countries too, Rifai said.

Most participants in the UNWTO session are staying in Croatia for another couple of days to see the sights.