The theme of travel's effects on community development around the world will mark this year’s World Tourism Day, an annual event recognizing the value and impact of tourism on the world’s social, political and economic climates.
Organized each year by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the event’s 2014 edition takes place tomorrow (Sept. 27) with official celebrations happening this year in Guadalajara, Mexico. The 2014 WTD event will feature speakers from travel organizations and government ministries representing nations as diverse as Albania, Aruba, Mexico and Malaysia.
Earlier this week, Toronto-based tour operator G Adventures held its annual Future of Tourism event in Toronto, which each year coincides with WTD. During his presentation at the event, G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip revealed plans for new rail travel packages, as well as a new program called Women on Wheels, which employs local women in Delhi to transport G Adventures’ single female travellers to the region – two announcements which are both in keeping with the theme of WTD 2014 of positive community development, he said.
In addition to the international distribution of wealth that takes place through tourism, Poon Tip told PAX that the impact of positive tourism can also be felt once travellers return home.
“Once they’re back home, we believe that when people get out of their comfort zone they come home with a greater appreciation for their own lifestyle, as well as tolerance - getting to know other cultures and understanding how people live around the world is one of the fastest roads to peace,” he said.
With worldwide tourism spending projected to represent 10 per cent of the annual global GDP - or $10 trillion - within the next decade as 1.9 billion international travellers criss-cross the globe, Poon Tip said in that time, he sees the sustainable tourism market doubling every three years to represent approximately 10 per cent of the global tourism industry, something that he says travel agents can bank on.
“The opportunity is much bigger because consumers are changing and wanting to match their values with their holiday choices,” he said. “I think travel agents play a large part in that process and it’s up to them to gain the knowledge required to capture that market.”
World Tourism Day 2014 can be found online at wtd.unwto.org, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.