Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University (ATMU)

Baku, Azerbaijan


Rector Madatov,
Dear Students,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor to stand here among so many tourism leaders of tomorrow.
I am honored to be hosted by ATMU, one of the finest schools of Azerbaijan in tourism management.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to address you on behalf of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
We find ourselves at a significant moment for international tourism.
Tourism continues as one of the biggest and fastest-growing economic activities of our times.
Today, tourism moves over 1.3 billion people across international borders every year.
It accounts for 10% of global GDP and jobs, and 30% of the world’s services’ exports.
Last year, international tourist arrivals grew by 7%. This is an all-time record.
Tourism’s sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development in many sectors – from construction to agriculture and telecommunications.
Yet, it also brings in many challenges.
The sector’s growth goes hand-in-hand with increasing diversification and competition amongst destinations.
Local community benefits and the quality of the visitor experience are huge factors for competitiveness and sustainability.
Tourism education and training is key in achieving this, which is why it is so important to have people like you studying tourism management.
You, and the skills you develop, will help to shape the future of our sector.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In 2017 Azerbaijan saw international tourist arrivals grow by a huge 20% (almost 3 million); it was a big year for tourism in the country.
International tourism in Azerbaijan is expected continue growing steadily, in line with the global growth of 4%-5% per year.
We must turn these figures into something that everyone feels is theirs.
In order to do that we need to develop skilled talent equipped to work in a sector that is changing very fast.
For example, new platform tourism services (or the so called sharing economy), mobile payment apps, the circular economy, and Big Data are all changing the way tourism operates.
Whilst adapting to these changes, travel and tourism has to become more competitive, ethical, sustainable and fair.
So the future of tourism relies upon people that can understand and shape the future – people like you!
Ladies and gentlemen,
I could not address an academic audience without highlighting the importance of education in tourism.
UNWTO has always championed tourism education in order to build a more competitive and sustainable tourism sector.
In this respect, Azerbaijan is contributing to the expanding field of knowledge by honing its students to become outstanding future professionals in the field of tourism.
I hope that today’s students and graduates of ATMU will become the tourism leaders of tomorrow.
And that you can continue to help Azerbaijan transform not only into a tourism powerhouse, but also into an agent of sustainable development.
Dear students,
I also wish to hear from each of you.
I am very interested in your points of view on tourism and especially if you have any questions about the sector.
I hope that we can have a long future working together to improve the sector.
You are the future tourism professionals here to advance tourism and fully harness its transformative power in the world.
Thank you, good luck, and don’t forget that you can each make a difference!