Innovation and creativity with cultural assets key for tourism – Zammit Lewis
During the International Congress on World Civilisations and Creative Tourism in Sofia, Bulgaria jointly organised by the Bulgarian Ministry for Tourism and World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis participated at the High Level Meeting, moderated by CNN Anchor and Correspondent Max Foster.
The theme of the International Congress addressed how tourism and culture can bring to life the world civilisations in a more creative way. Both tourism and culture are key in safeguarding and promoting tangible and intangible heritage as well as generating socio-economic benefits for all stakeholders. During his intervention, Dr Zammit Lewis opened his address stating that the Digital Age has had a huge impact on how cultural and creative tourism are presented to travellers seeking the ultimate experience. During the past few years, almost everywhere in Europe has witnessed big efforts by public institutions and private bodies for converting the “physical cultural heritage” into “digital”. The innovative and successful destination is the one which manages to capitalise on the advantages of digitisation and incorporate them in its tourist offer.
In a global society which increasingly needs to understand its rich past to confidently face the future, the impact of ancient civilisations on what constitutes contemporary societies is something that needs to be promoted and communicated. From the tourism perspective, such understanding can assist in fostering greater human understanding, reducing the prospects of conflict whilst giving due importance to the tangible and intangible heritage which are the foundations of our tourism experiences, Dr Zammit Lewis said.
On the eve of the International Congress, the Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis together with Bulgarian Minister for Tourism Nikolina Angelkova, UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai, the Jordanian Princess Dana Firas addressed a press conference, which touched upon the subject matter of the conference and other contemporary issues in European tourism.
During his visit in Sofia, Dr Zammit Lewis met Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov during a private meeting with the group of dignitaries and tourism ministers from various countries from around the globe.
Dr Zammit Lewis also had a bilateral meeting with the UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai. Two events to be held in Malta in May 2017 in collaboration with the UNWTO were discussed. During one of the occasions UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics will be presented for adoption by the Maltese travel trade. The Maltese Tourism stakeholders and the UNWTO will be signing this Code which is a fundamental frame of reference for responsible and sustainable tourism.
The other event that will be complementary to the High Level Conference during the Presidency of the Council of the EU, is a master class to attract the Chinese tourism market to Mediterranean destinations. This initiative is timed to anticipate the EU’s decision to declare 2018 as the year for European Union – China Tourism. The Malta master class will bring together a range of practitioners from industry including operators, airlines, those in accommodation and other experts. Dr Zammit Lewis said he believed that Malta can play a leading role in growing Chinese Tourism to the Mediterranean region as a means of reversing Europe’s persistent loss in local tourism market shares which needs to be halted and reversed.
Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai extended his invitation to Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis to join UNWTO during the term of Malta’s EU Presidency at an event during the FITUR in Madrid in January 2017 for the launching of the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Dr Zammit Lewis mentioned that Malta’s objective is to reach the two million tourist arrival milestone by the end of 2017, which is the fruit of hard work of innovative ideas in improving the tourism industry while implementing new policies.
In his concluding remarks, Dr Zammit Lewis explained that Malta’s tourism competitiveness can only be sustained if growth is accompanied by the development of our human resources. To this end, the Ministry for Tourism has been engaging all employment-related stakeholders to secure their commitment towards measures designed to enhance the working conditions and the professional quality of those working in tourism.
Dr Zammit Lewis was accompanied by Malta’s Liaison Officer to UNWTO Leslie Vella.