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The Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria

The Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, recently opened the 15th World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit together with the President of the Autonomous Region of Madrid, Ignacio González; the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Taleb Rifai; and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the WTTC, David Scowsill.

Every year, this global summit brings together more than 1,000 representatives from the tourism sector, governments and the international media, with the aim of raising the international community’s awareness of the growing importance of tourism and the potential of the tourism industry for sustainable development at a global level and for economic growth.

The Minister for Industry stressed that holding the Global Summit in Madrid will make it the very epicentre and capital of the tourism industry and recalled that this congress will facilitate the exchange of experiences between the sector and participating governments, who will discuss the importance of this activity.

José Manuel Soria confirmed that the tourism sector is acting as a catalyst for growth, economic development and job creation, which all help drive economic recovery, not only in Spain, but throughout the world.

José Manuel Soria highlighted the drive of this industry in Spain, which represents 11% of GDP, and covered 165% of the Spanish trade deficit in 2014. He also highlighted the progress in terms of job creation, with the sector representing 12% of total employment in Spain.

The Minister for Industry also underlined that the positive trend in tourism-based employment is continuing into 2015, with March recording a 5.9% year-on-year increase. This is the highest figure for March since records began.

To a considerable extent, this figure is a result of the best Easter Week for eight years, according to data released by the sector and the government, with an average occupation rate of 80%.

However, it should be stressed that every single month from May 2014 to March 2015 has posted the highest figure on record.

These figures are not only due to the increase in inbound tourists, with a record-breaking figure of 6.5 million, a 4.5% increase on the corresponding period for 2014, but also to the net improvement in domestic tourism.

José Manuel Soria stressed that these figures have led to Spain becoming the world benchmark model for tourism, which was made possible by the government making this industry a State priority.

This project has been principally based on its cross-cutting nature, the idea which laid the foundations for the road map for tourism in Spain – the National and Comprehensive Tourism Plan 2012-2015 – which has now been 75% implemented, and was the very first plan of the government in this term of office, which has contributed to this sector’s competitiveness, profitability and innovation.

About the WTTC
This forum, which advocates public-private collaboration, seeks results that bring together the needs of the economy, of local and regional authorities and of companies, based on the recognition of tourism as a priority for governments, as well as periodically setting the strategic priorities of tourism with the aim of identifying the issues that create most problems for the sector and for its positive development.

On this occasion, the congress tackled the future of tourism in Europe, its infrastructure and investments, as well as the role of Madrid as a global destination and as a hub between Spain and Latin America, and indeed the rest of the world.

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