“The human desire to travel and explore is universal, which is why tourism must be open for everyone to enjoy,” said Zurab Pololikashvili secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to mark World Tourism Day on Sept. 27.
The theme for World Tourism Day 2021 is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” and, as such, the UNWTO is encouraging the world to look beyond tourism statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges for the travel industry, the United Nations agency is inviting its Member States, as well as non-members, sister UN agencies, businesses and individuals to celebrate tourism’s ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up again and look to the future.
“By celebrating this day, we state our commitment that, as tourism grows, the benefits that come will be felt at every level of our broad and diverse sector, from the biggest airline to the smallest family business,” said Pololikashvili in a statement.
World Tourism Day, celebrated each year on Sept. 27, is a global observance day fostering awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
The pause in international travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has “made clear the relevance of tourism to our societies,” Mr. Pololikashvili said.
“The economic and social impact has been felt far beyond the sector itself. And in many places, the most vulnerable members of society have been hit hardest of all,” he said.”
“Working for inclusive growth means getting everybody behind a better vision for tourism.”
“Only this way can tourism’s restart reach the people and communities that need it the most right now and build the foundations for a better future for all.”
The Caribbean has “suffered grievously”
Vanessa Ledesma, acting CEO and director general, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) said this year’s theme is “particularly relevant” because all areas of the Caribbean have been ravaged by the pandemic and climate-related disasters.
“Our sector, which attracts precious foreign exchange revenues, has suffered grievously, and as a result, the economies and the people of our region have been enormously impacted,” Ledesma said, noting how the CHTA is pleased to support “inclusive growth.”
“A thriving tourism sector feeds and nourishes so many other stakeholders and this is especially so in the Caribbean, the world's most tourism-dependent region,” she said. “We see this in abundance throughout the region as a growing number of Caribbean nationals have aspired to positions of top management and ownership in tourism-related businesses and the many other enterprises in their communities which are made possible due to the cascading impact of visitor spending.”
Tourism is a sector that bounces back the “quickest from adversity,” she added.
“The full restart of tourism will be the speediest and most productive way to recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly, and no one is left behind,” she said.
Virtual conference today
The CHTA, alongside the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), leaders from government, the private sector and non-governmental, academic, health and media organizations, will host a day-long virtual conference on the future of Caribbean tourism on Sept. 27 to mark World Tourism Day.
“The "Future of Caribbean Tourism - Redefining the three S’s” will focus on social inclusion, sustainability, and smart destinations and businesses and G Adventures Founder Bruce Poon Tip will deliver the keynote address. (Travel advisors are invited to attend. Click here to register).
“As we look towards the future, sustainable tourism used as a development tool, at the forefront of the region’s economic recovery, can help to strengthen other sectors against the effects of future shocks,” said Neil Walters, secretary general of the CTO. “Sustainable tourism is already recognized as a contributor directly or indirectly to most of the UN sustainable development goals, including gender equality, decent work and economic growth.”
Walters said it’s imperative that the CTO “forge alliances and partnerships with organizations and institutions that play a meaningful role in contributing to the social and economic development of the region.”
One example is the CTO’s collaboration with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF), which is funding community-based tourism pilot projects using the cluster approach in rural and indigenous areas in three Caribbean countries.
“By providing opportunities such as these to vulnerable groups, we enhance the capacity of Caribbean people to play a leading role in their own development,” Walters said. “We also demonstrate that in addition to being a primary economic revenue earner for the Caribbean, tourism can be inclusive and by extension promote growth in all of our communities.”
For more on World Tourism Day 2021, click here.