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UNWTO Summit discusses new reforms for human resources in tourism

Qatar: Saturday, April 25 - 2009 @ 10:02

Addressing the human resource for tourism the United Nations World Organisation Tourism summit, organized by Qatar Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, took place from April 21st to April 22nd.

According to the January 2009 issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, in 2008, international tourist arrivals worldwide increased by 2%. The Middle East registered the best performance among all world regions with 11% growth in international tourist arrivals in 2008 over the previous year. Based on passenger traffic data from worldwide airports for the first two months of 2009, it appears that of all the world regions, the Middle East is the least affected y the global crisis thus far. It was the only region with a positive traffic growth of 3.1%.

The Summit has demonstrated the complexity of labour markets in the region and constantly returned to the fact that the rapid growth of tourism in the region brings with it issues of labour supply gaps and skills shortage. The Qatar Summit identified a range of human resource challenges for tourism.

Tourism employment comes in the shape of a broad spectrum of roles and varied tasks, across all sectors benefiting in particular women, the young and the unemployed. Tourism is well known as a generator of employment, so a well-trained tourism labour force will both anticipate and remedy such economic crisis.

Longer-term challenges include the poor image and lack of understanding of tourism jobs, and the fact that availability of labour and skills is highly variable across the region.

The Summit addressed these issues into four key pillars of reform:

The first one is the need to change the mindset of both governments and communities towards employment in tourism, as well as the need for the industry to change its view of human resources to one that values peoples, their skills and knowledge, develops them and treats them as valued resources.

The second pillar means the necessary understanding of labour markets. With the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) methodology, it is now easier to understand and measure labour markets, diagnose the problems and act. Governments will be able to plan for future labour and traning needs.

Re-engineering education and training, the third pillar of reform, will demand national standard setting in partnership with industry and the development of articulated and legible pathways to allow students to gain qualifications, and ensuring that programmes are creatively packaged, innovative and utilize edge technology for lifelong learning.

The final pillar of reform relates to the work and leadership of both the UNWTO and Qatar in addressing these challenges and engaging stakeholders to craft new strategies. The solutions demand the forging of effective partnerships and working together to implement the recommendations of the Summit, as well as the findings of the Bali conference and the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda.

Professor Chris Cooper, summit moderator, commented:

“The message of this summit is clear – tourism is a people-centered industry, the sector must invest in the education, training and development of the labour force to secure the future.”

Alongside the Qatar Summit, the 32nd meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation commission for the Middle East took place on April 22nd and 23rd.

Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO, presented to the members of the Commission a snapshot analysis of the current economic downturn’s impact on tourism in the Middle East and North Africa. Country briefs and response measures were also discussed in a regional perspective.

The Secretary General presented the research programme: “Tourism towards 2030”, as well as regional training programmes and possible adjustments in the light of the global economic downturn.

This meeting of the UNWTO commission for the Middle East reviewed the preparations for the eighteenth session of the General Assembly of UNWTO, that will take place in October 2009.

On the occasion of the conclusive press conference, Mr Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Qatar Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, declared, “I am really pleased Qatar Tourism and Exhibitions Authority hosted this UNWTO conference. With 250 participants, we shared different experiences and had very fruitful discussions that enabled us to create a roadmap with four pillars of reform. Tourism is a key economic pillar and we need to ensure the future of the region.”

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Saturday, April 25- 2009 @ 10:02 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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