Tourism brings growing responsibilities, UNWTO head says
"1.2 billion people travelling across the borders of their country can present 1.2 billion opportunities or 1.2 billion catastrophes," Rifai warned, adding that the tourism sector must constantly seek to find ways to make the world a better place.
Peace should not be taken for granted and in today's globalised world no country can sustain peace on its own. "Peace in Slovenia depends on peace in the region and in the world. A problem anywhere is a problem everywhere," he said.
Rifai believes a key challenge for the future will be to enable obstacle-free travel despite security measures.
Security measures are necessary but they must be humane, he said, warning against the closing of European borders. He also called for the continuation of visa liberalisation process.
Rifai believes countries should not react with panic to security threats but must work together instead.
People should not be advised against travelling to places where locals need their help and support the most, he stressed.
Helen Marano of the World Travel & Tourism Council agreed that tourism can contribute to better understanding of different cultures and thus to peace. She too warned against the closing of borders and building of walls.
Addressing the panel, Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said that tourism was faced with increasingly many challenges, foremost connected to terrorism and migration.
He called for sustainable development. "There can be no security without sustainability and no sustainability without security," he said.
Slovenia is devoted to green and sustainable tourism, head of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) Maja Pak said. "Natural resources improve the quality of life and the latter is one of the most important elements of a safe country," she stressed.
According to Terry Stevens, head of company Stevens & Associates and an expert on destination management, world leaders have a great responsibility. Panic and overreactions should be avoided, decisions must be proportionate and reasonable, he warned.
The CEO of travel agency Kompas, Tatjana Juriševič, said that panic among tourists was often created by the media. "It is important to stay rational," she stressed.
Eva Štravs Podlogar, head of Directorate for Tourism and Internationalization at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, pointed to cooperation in the branch, noting that all Slovenian stakeholders were included in the drawing up of a new national tourism strategy.
Hungarian Government Commissioner for Tourism Gusztav Bienerth too underlined the importance of cooperation, calling on Slovenia to back Budapest's candidacy for the 2024 Summer Olympics.