Interview with Zoltan Somogyi, Executive Director for Programme and Coordination, UNWTO
Thank you for coming to Belgrade and also for agreeing to speak with us today.
Where does political unrest and its impact on global tourism sit among UNWTO priorities?
The impact of crises of all natures is a key priority of the UNWTO, be they political, environmental or health issue. The Organisation facilitates capacity building initiatives to help public and private sector organisations prepare, respond and recover from all crises. However we are also fortunate that tourism is a highly resilient industry and recovers from all types of crises in a fast manner. In fact the tourism industry has only declined three times in the past two decades: September 11, 2001; SARS 2003 and the Global Financial Crisis 2009. The impacts of these crises are generally short in nature and the recovery is quick for most destinations.
How can the media contribute to rebuilding destination image following incidents of terrorism or social/political instability?
The media is an indispensable partner in sharing information. They can do this is a responsive, accurate and transparent manner and this can aid in the rebuilding of destinations. The media can sell perceptions to the general and traveling public and cooperate with the destination in creating a positive image. Destinations also have a responsibility to respond quickly to media and give accurate and positive travel advice.
How can media work with organisations such as the UNWTO and WYSE to rebuild destination image?
Media and these organisations are in partnership to create positive messages about tourism. Tourism is not only about the pretty pictures but also about how many jobs that its creating. UNWTO wants to position tourism as a key contributor to economic growth and job creation. Since 2011 UNWTO has organised the “Tourism and the media conferences”. This initiative aims to enhance UNWTO relations with world media and capitalise on the engagement and capacities of the media community.
What is special about the youth travel segment and in your opinion how does it make a unique contribution to global tourism?
Youth tourism is a particularly interesting segment of our industry because it has been progressively growing in recent years and its having a positive impact of other areas – such as sport and adventure tourism. Its contribution has to be taken into account by destinations when developing alternatives and when diversifying a market or product model. Young people are also advocates of a more sustainable sector of tourism and lead that debate. This year the UNWTO and WYSE Travel Confederation published a new edition of the Global Report on The Power of Youth Tourism, providing new information on the economic impact of Youth Travel and with case studies.