The executive director of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Natalia Bayona, stressed that the Dominican Republic is a pioneer and strategic country in terms of tourism in the region, and for this reason, they are in communication with the authorities to install the Tourism Academy that the secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili promised to install in this nation as soon as possible.
“We are in conversations from the president to Minister Collado so that education issues are indeed a priority for a strategic country for us as is the Dominican Republic. A country that has been a pioneer in the development of tourism in the region,” said Bayona, after participating in the activities for World Tourism Day held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In this sense, the director said that she is working together with the Ministry of Tourism to make this Academy a reality.
However, Bayona clarified that the Academy cannot come overnight. “Just yesterday we launched the academy in Saudi Arabia for the world, but it was a two-year process, so we believe that as soon as possible we will reach them (Dominican Republic).”
Last May, at the International Forum on Sustainable Tourism and the eighteenth Executive Council Meeting of the UNWTO, its secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili, made a commitment to President Luis Abinader and Minister David Collado to create academies in the Dominican Republic that address the issue of sustainability.
Regarding investments in the region, Bayona stressed that, under the leadership of Zurab Pololikashvili, investment is one of the strategic pillars and “for us it is key to strengthen investment promotion in tourism. We see that investment promotion has to be directed towards people, towards prosperity and sustainability”.
The director said she understood that today, the investment model is very traditional, based on the issue of taxes and very traditional regulations in promotion. “We have to migrate. Today 66% of investments are focused on the hotel industry and 18% are focused on technology, even though innovation plays a very important role”.
For the World Tourism Organization, said Bayona, its priorities are to invest in people in tourism, since 50% of young people working in the area only have a high school education. Also, 50% of young people working in tourism want to become entrepreneurs.
Likewise, in terms of sustainability, 28% of the companies working in the hotel industry have strategies against climate change, “and this means that we have to work to strengthen the sector, so that 28% are not only strengthening sustainable relations”.
Another priority of the UNWTO is related to prosperity, that is, they want to promote innovation in technologies and startups.
For Bayona, Saudi Arabia is synonymous with leadership because it is one of the emerging countries in terms of tourism investment.
He highlighted that this country is investing more than 800 billion dollars for the next ten years focused on tourism.
He highlighted that Arabia is leading the promotion of education, “therefore, it is a country that is open to the world and is generating a positioning to strengthen the development of tourism at the international level”.
He pointed out that the UNWTO has a regional office in Arabia, and this makes them promote the issue of investment and education.