The President of Hungary, Pál Schmitt, is among the first European heads of state to join the ongoing World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign.
In May, President Schmitt was presented an Open Letter stressing the importance of Travel and Tourism to global growth and development by UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, following the European Stakeholders Conference in Budapest organized in the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union.The President, having worked for 17 years in the tourism sector, said he was well aware of the importance of tourism to the economy and to employment. President Schmitt, a former Olympic gold medalist, also highlighted the close relationship between sports and tourism, which he identified as two driving forces of future growth for the new decade.
With nine million international tourist arrivals in 2010, Hungary is becoming one of the most important destinations in Europe and one of the few to have seen tourist numbers increase during the crisis year of 2009—international tourist arrivals grew by three percent in 2009 and five percent in 2010. Tourism revenues reached $5.4 billion in 2010.
As part of the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, UNWTO and WTTC are jointly presenting heads of state and government around the world an Open Letter calling on them to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering on sustained and balanced growth and to prioritize the sector high in national policies in order to maximize its potential.