The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced its commitment to sustainable tourism at Annual Investment Meeting
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10 May 2023: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced their commitment to sustainable growth through the power of government and investment in the tourism industry. In the same context, they hosted a forum at the 12th edition of Annual Investment Meeting that focused on Investing in People – Investing in Planet – Investing in Prosperity’.
The session began with a keynote speech from Natalia Bayona, the Director of Innovation, Education, and Investments at UNWTO, where she confirmed that she had signed an agreement with AIM and praised the government’s success in creating 45,000 new jobs. She emphasized that trust-building and establishing confident relationships are the key factors to attract investments for sustainable growth. She further added that governments should update their regulations to support SMEs, which will build their confidence and lead to further growth.
This was followed by some insightful thoughts from Miguel Angel Figueroa Calsina Investment Principal, Innovation, Education and Investments, UNWTO, who focused on Setting the scene: UNWTO’s Tourism Investment Vision and Activities.He discussed the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry. Although the World Health Organization recently stated that the pandemic is no longer a top priority, caution should be exercised because of the uncertainty that still exists. The recovery is ongoing, and we have come a long way from where we started. However, the research is only a test scenario, and it is crucial to learn from this pandemic to fill the gap in tourism and to create a new paradigm for investments.
It is important to understand the nature of tourism, accounting for one out of the ten jobs and representing 4% of the global GDP, which was wiped out during the pandemic. It is a labour-intensive industry, and it is difficult to recover from such a loss. Furthermore, tourism is a value chain that has different sub-sectors and industries with a lot of SMEs, and it is essential to consider the portfolios of startups as we rethink the new way of developing investment promotion interests. The consumer trends and technological trends that are evolving in the next ten years are essential to consider as well since the profile of the consumers will change. The new generation will be digital, focused on sustainability, authenticity, and transparency, and they will be looking for new destinations that cater to their preferences, offering huge opportunities for sustainability.
The moderator of this forum Peter Mihaly Janech, the Presenter and Coordinator for the World Tourism Organization, also emphasizes the importance of investing in people, education, and talent, especially in light of COVID-related skills shortages. He also highlights the value of investing in sustainable infrastructure, hospitality, and environmentally friendly practices to address the pressure of climate change and achieve net-zero emissions. Additionally, he suggests that investing in innovation, entrepreneurship, and empowering women can lead to prosperity. Finally, he notes the potential benefits of investing in the travel and tech mobility sector, specifically through plug and play real estate.
This forum featured a panel discussion on Challenges of Women Entrepreneurs: The Financial, Investment and Educational Shortfalls. The moderator Dr. Hanan El Basha, the founder of The Business Doctor and The Global Businesswoman Senator at WBAF, emphasized the significance of female empowerment in the business world and highlighted the numerous obstacles that women entrepreneurs encounter when starting and managing their SMEs. She suggested that entrepreneurs should collaborate to establish and sustain an inclusive ecosystem that supports women in business.
It also featured some high-level speakers. Maria Helena de Felipe, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee and Vice-president of Equity Group, drew attention to the various obstacles faced by women in business, highlighting the fact that only six countries/economies in the world recognize women entrepreneurs. She emphasized the importance of society encouraging and empowering women in business as it can lead to the growth of economies.
Reem Baghdadi, the Chairwoman of Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women, noted that the manufacturing industry is one of the sectors where women are not recognized, due to the misconception that it is an unsafe industry for women or one that requires physical ability. She suggested showcasing successful role models and success stories in the sector and airing them in the media to encourage more women to venture into the industry.
Ubaydli al Ubaydli, the President of the Arab ICT Union, highlighted the potential of technology, particularly AI, to help establish gender equality in the world of entrepreneurship.
Reem Badran, the Founder of Mena Businesswomen Network, emphasized the importance of networking in enhancing women’s business skills. She acknowledged that the challenges of different backgrounds and cultural differences exist but encouraged educating and involving more women in commerce through conference panels to open up more opportunities in the economic field and entrepreneurship.
Yemisi Mokuolu, the CEO of Hatch Ideas, noted the need to overcome the societal visualization deficiency that hinders opportunities for women in leadership roles in entrepreneurship. She also suggested focusing on developing micro-investors since financial literacy is among the challenges while building the future economy.
Ahmed Juma Alraeesi, the Secretary General of the Emirati Entrepreneurs Association, focused on the need for legislation to support women entrepreneurs. He highlighted that the UAE government is committed to offering fixed support and restructuring schemes with a legislative perspective to extend full support for women’s empowerment.
Dr. Jyoti Devakumar, the Director of Operations at Consortium for Space and Longevity, the Director of International Regulations at Healthspan Action Coalition, and the CEO and Founder of Purusha Venture Labs, emphasized the need for society to educate more women in science. She noted that the lack of opportunities for women in science is due to education shortfalls and suggested making information more accessible by offering training and creating pathways to encourage more women to seek entrepreneurship opportunities.