UNWTO Exco shines light on talent and SMEs as tourism transformers

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The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is stressing SMEs and talent development as key transformers of global tourism.

The two areas were the theme for a thematic session at the ongoing 117th Executive Council Meeting in Marrakech, Morocco.

The common theme running through the Executive Council is the urgent need to rethink and transform tourism. This means embracing new ideas and supporting those innovators and small businesses with the power to make a difference.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said at the opening of the session that the organization recognized the need to help tourism SMES in order to withstand the shocks of COPVID-19.

“As you know, the pandemic hit our sector hard. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are the backbone of our sector, and they were hit hardest of all. It is these businesses we need to make agents of transformation. But we recognize that not all of them have the tools or the knowledge to adapt to changed circumstances.

“In fact, the pandemic was a reality check for our sector, it showed us just how many small enterprises had not made the shift to digital. It is not because the interest isn’t there. The opposite is true – the vast majority of tourism businesses want to adapt, evolve and innovate. But too many lack the resources to do so. This is where we come in. Through the UNWTO Digital Futures Programme, we offer a platform that aims to reach 2 million SMEs,” he maintained.

In addition to this, the Executive Council has approved the “Marrakech Call to Action” to commit to supporting MSMEs in all of UNWTO’s Members States and be a key part of the sector’s digital transformation.

The Call to Action will target investment in three ways: Digitalization of SMEs to benefit people – this includes through organizing competitions and challenges in specific countries and then helping enterprises to benefit from existing technology as well as emerging tech and deep tech.

Digitalization of SMEs for prosperity: To increase investments and ensure money is targeted where it will make a real difference in accelerating change.

Lastly, the digitalization of SMEs for the planet – with sustainable practices and the SDGs as our guides.

Zurab is of the firm belief that “the effort will be worth it” and that “innovation can help small businesses cut costs and become more efficient. It will help them become more competitive in a truly global market.”
“It will also be essential if we are serious about making tourism more inclusive and sustainable,” he emphasized.

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