The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has appointed Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, as Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017.
The appointment was made official at a ceremony in New York on the side-lines of the UN Ocean Conference,.
At the conference, the PM addressed participants on the value of tourism to sustainably advance the blue economy.
Tuilaepa said that the designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development was because of recognition by the United Nations of the tourism sector’s potential to contribute to the fight against poverty, help curb climate change, promote gender equality and foster mutual understanding and peace amongst diverse cultures.
He said tourism is a sector that is vital to the livelihoods of people and touches all the three dimensions of sustainable development, the social, economic and environmental aspects.
He added that as a people-to-people activity, tourism has helped and continues to contribute to the revitalization of our culture, customs and traditional crafts, and plays a pivotal role in the preservation of the cultural heritage of Pacific islands,
In addition it’s a force that promotes peace and understanding.
UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai said the International Year is a unique opportunity to promote common action and enhance the power of tourism to build a better world.
He thanked Samoa for leading the initiative for the adoption of the UN resolution declaring the International Year and for its sustained, exemplary contribution in promoting the value of our sector towards the achievement of the 2030 Development Agenda, particularly for the Small Islands Developing States.