President Leonel Fernandez was recognized for the DR’s leadership in tourism in the Caribbean at the World Tourism Organization headquarters in Madrid yesterday. Speaking at the event, Fernandez expressed his firm belief in the social and economic contribution that tourism makes to sustainable development.
President Fernandez commended UNWTO’s work in promoting tourism’s role in economic development and peace building, stressing the importance of “receiving support from a prestigious organization like the UNWTO” for his country.
Welcoming the President to the UNWTO headquarters, Secretary-General Taleb Rifai congratulated the progress made by the DR as a leading tourism destination and the way it has made the most of the positive contribution of tourism for its entire population. “Your country, Mr. President, is a living example of how tourism, when given the necessary political recognition, can drive economic growth and development”, said Mr. Rifai.
Rifai invited Fernandez to become “an ambassador for the cause of tourism.”
“UNWTO is proud to have the Dominican Republic as an active member that clearly identifies the positive values of our industry and puts them at the service of social progress, both nationally and beyond its own borders”.
Rifai also commended the DR for role in helping Haiti after the 12 January earthquake. “Your swift and generous role in the recovery of Haiti, ranging from humanitarian support to the reconstruction process is a clear example. Only yesterday you called on Latin American, Caribbean and European leaders here in Madrid to continue supporting your neighboring country,” he said.
The UNWTO highlights the fact that the DR, which was one of the founding members of UNWTO in 1975, has played a prominent role in the organization over the years. The country, a leading Caribbean destination with over 4 million tourist arrivals each year, generates more than US$4 billion in export revenues. Despite the extremely challenging economic conditions of 2009, the Dominican Republic reported positive results in international tourist arrivals for the year.