Is tourism MENA's new black gold?
While oil may be the main source of income for many nations, the tourism industry is poised to overtake it very soon, a minister from South America said in Abu Dhabi.
Freddy Ehlers, Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, told the 13th Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council that tourism would soon replace oil as the major earner for many countries, including those in South America, dependent on oil.
Ehlers, who was seated in the audiences, had been asked by the moderator of a panel discussion to comment on a topic titled Common problems and Common Solutions’.
The Ecuadorian minister said his country is promoting Tourism of Conscience that goes beyond ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism concepts. He added that the oncept of ethical tourism’ had come about at a time the country is battling many other unethical practices in the industry — vices he said people were reluctant to talk about. Ehlers said sustainable tourism was the best solution to such problems.
Ehlers said up until about 20 to 30 years ago, when the issue of sustainability was scarcely discussed, the tourism industry had negative effects on the culture and environments of many nations, especially in Latin America.
He, however, commended the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for coming up with a lot of positive changes regarding sustainable practices.
Ehlers said his idea of Tourism of Conscience comprised all of those positive aspects, adding that Ecuador’s tourism industry had become a frontrunner as far as this concept was concerned.
The Ecuadorian minister the concept of âconscience’ helps in improving humanity as well as helping the tourism industy. He added that it will created a fundamentally new era in tourism.
The tourism ministers of 12 Latin American nations recently formed a joint platform to promote tourism, he said.
However, Ehlers said he was unhappy with Latin America’s representation at the Abu Dhabi summit.
“An Ecuadorian Ambassador pointed out to me that there is no Spanish [the common language across Latin America] translation at the summit. [I] hope next time there will be more presence from both public and private sectors in Latin America,” Ehlers said.
Prior to becoming tourism minister in 2010, Ehlers had travelled most of the world during his days as a television producer and journalist for acclaimed television programmes. He studied jurisprudence at the Central University of Ecuador and television in the Netherlands and the United States. In addition, he studied journalism at Davison College, North Carolina, as a Fulbright Scholar.
Ehlers ran for the office of Ecuadorian president in 1996 and 1998. From 2002-2006, he was elected as a legislator in the Andean Parliament. In January 18, 2007 became the Secretary-General of the Andean Community.
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