Meeting with the Azerbaijan Tourism Council

Baku, Azerbaijan
Minister Garayev,
It is an honour to be with you today.
Congratulations on the excellent tourism results in Azerbaijan in 2017.
Your vision and leadership are exemplary. 
Distinguished Council Members,
Thank you for this audience today.
It is a pleasure and an honour to address you as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations.
This Council is an example as it brings together all public tourism entities to chart a course for the sector’s future.
This makes today an excellent opportunity for me to hear your concerns and your priorities.
I want to start by suggesting that together we work to address the following priorities in tourism:
1.Education and job creation
2.Innovation and technology
3.Safety and security; and
4.Sustainability and climate change
I want to address these global challenges by:
1.Strengthening the links of UNWTO with its Member States
2.Reinforcing cooperation with the private sector, including technology providers and start-ups
And I want to ensure that the continued growth of tourism benefits all.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In 2017 there was an increase of 7% in the number of international tourist arrivals, which totalled over 1.3 billion.
This demonstrates the strength of our sector; one that provides 10% of global GDP and jobs, and 7% of all exports.
Azerbaijan saw international tourist arrivals grow by a huge 20% in 2017.
This is testament to the progress Azerbaijan has made in promoting itself as a destination.
And now with the candidacy of Baku to host the World EXPO 2025, Azerbaijan new opportunities arise to strengthen tourism development and investment in Azerbaijan.  
Ladies and gentlemen,
As leaders of Azerbaijan tourism I also want to encourage you all to help our sector lead in championing sustainable and responsible tourism practises.
This will ensure that tourism’s continued growth is turned into benefits for all.
As you know, the global tourism community must work together to enhance the sector’s contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is through the collaboration of private and public sector, the academia and all actors that we best achieve our common goals.
UNWTO is ready to support and work with you to strengthen cooperation.
We are already highly engaged with Azerbaijan in many ways, including the UNWTO Silk Road Programme.
Also, last year we came here for the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, where in a ministerial debate discussed the importance of the tourism and culture partnership.
These are just two examples of our close relationship with Azerbaijan which I trust will be reinforced after today’s meeting. 
I look forward to hear from you and strengthening our partnership.
Thank you.