The International Conference on “Universal Values and Cultural Diversity in the 21st Century: How can tourism make a difference? ¨ was hosted by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia and co-organized with UNWTO. The conference took place in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan on 18 and 19 of October 2012. The aim of the conference was to mainstream into the common agenda how tourism can contribute to tolerance, respect and mutual understanding and what are the keys of the tourism sector for universal values and cultural diversity in the 21st Century.
The event drew together high-profile international public and private sector representatives and distinguished experts to discuss the issues of sustainable and responsible tourism as a driver for tolerance, mutual respect and intercultural dialogue.
At the conclusion of the conference, leading Armenian tourism industry stakeholders signed the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in the framework of the conference.
The Yerevan Declaration highlights the role of ethical tourism in advancing intercultural dialogue and was adopted by all the delegates of the conference. The Declaration calls on stakeholders from across the sector to promote ethical values in tourism development, help to enhance cultural diversity and safeguard cultural heritage.
In addition to the conference, Mr. Rifai participated in the Meeting of the Tourism Council of the CIS Member States. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of regional cooperation and highlighted the importance of areas such as research, product development, promotion and the preservation of common natural and cultural assets, travel facilitation, connectivity and marketing that can be better addressed through a collaborative approach.
During the conference, the Secretary-General visited the Yerevan State University and delivered a lecture for the tourism faculty students and professors. Apart of the tourism development trends and the long-term outlook, Mr. Rifai underlined the role of the tourism faculty students in shaping the future of the Armenian tourism sector.
During his official mission to Armenia, Mr. Rifai met the President of the Republic of Armenia, H.E. Mr. Serzh Sargsyan and the Prime Minister, H.E. Mr. Tigran Sargsyan. While meeting with the President, the Secretary-General presented to him the Golden book, a recompilation of the authorities who received the Open Letter during 2011, including President Sargsyan of Armenia.