Minister of Economy Gustas: tourism opportunities must be exploited to increase economic growth


2013 10 17


On 17 October, the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania Evaldas Gustas opened the 12th European Tourism Forum ‘Tourism – a Force for Economic Growth, Social Change and Welfare’.

‘This Forum will allow us to exchange good practice, share plans for the future and make useful decisions. I strongly believe that those decisions will turn into concrete action or joint projects and will help prove that the tourism opportunities have a great potential for economic growth and social cohesion’, - stressed the Minister of Economy in his opening address at the Forum.

According to Gustas, the motto of the European Union (EU) ‘United in diversity’ is particularly suitable for the tourism sector. Europe is known as a continent with a high quality tourism services. Tourism here is associated with the invaluable natural, cultural and historical heritage.

The Forum started with the Informal Ministerial meeting, where Vice President of the European Commission Antonio Tajani, ministers and representatives from the EU Member States in charge of tourism are going to discuss visa policy, senior tourism initiatives and tourism related funding under the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020.

‘The fact that the 12th European Tourism Forum takes place in Lithuania is a great opportunity to pay due consideration to the tourism issues in Europe, the Baltic Sea Region and Lithuania as well as present Lithuanian tourism possibilities. Tourism in Lithuania has a strong position. This is evidenced by the growing flow of tourists every year. According to the European Travel Commission, the foreign tourist flow growth in Lithuania takes leading positions in Europe for the second consecutive year, – stressed Gustas during the press conference.

‘It is of outmost importance that we single out those initiatives which can further uplift the EU tourism sector and help Europe to remain the world's number one tourism destination. By simplifying short-stay visa processing to attract more tourists from emerging economies, strengthening senior tourism, which can boost tourism outside the peak season, aligning new tourism initiatives with the priorities set in the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020, we can ensure funding and boost competitiveness, innovation and sustainability in this sector’, - said Vice President of the European Commission Antonio Tajani.

During the Forum was signed the Protocol on Amendments to the Agreement among the Governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on co-operation in the field of tourism. This amendment will enable the Baltic countries to cooperate more closely in joint tourism projects.

The private sector representatives signed the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Code for Ethics for the Private Sector, which has already been signed by more than 150 global tourism business associations.

‘The signature of the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Code of Ethics  by these associations representing the private sector in a wide range of European countries here in Lithuania is a testimony of their pledge to the principles of a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector’, – said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

On 17-18 October, the participants of the 12th European Tourism Forum are discussing the benefits of tourism for the European Union (EU) economy and competitiveness, the diversity of tourism products, closer cooperation, the future of tourism and tax issues in the tourism business.

The Forum is organized by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania, in cooperation with the European Commission.