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News Article

Tourism and sustainable development

Sustainable development the theme of both World Tourism Day and the UNWTO General Assembly

With 2017 having been designated the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, it was only fitting that the same theme was applied to the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) held in Chengdu, China on 11-16 September, and to this years’ World Tourism Day on 27 September. The theme of the 5-day long General Assembly was “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030”, focusing on the priorities of the UNWTO for 2018-2019, the transformation of the UNWTO Code of Ethics for Tourism into an International Convention and the impact of technology on tourism. On World Tourism Day, the United Nations underscored the potential of sustainable tourism to advance economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainable development.

The biennial UNWTO General Assembly convened more than 1300 participants from Member States and Affiliate Members of UNWTO representing over 130 countries. Among the outputs of the meeting, the Convention of Tourism Ethics converted the Global Code of Ethics into a binding document to advance the ethical components of tourism. The document covers the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the development of sustainable tourism, providing a framework that recommends an ethical and sustainable modus operandi including the right to tourism, freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals.

“Chengdu will always remain in UNWTO history as host of the Assembly that approved the Organization’s first international convention – the Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

“In an interconnected world where the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, ‎food products or automobiles, it is important to set out a legal framework to ensure that growth is dealt with responsibly and that it can be sustained over time. Tourism is a power that must be harnessed for the benefit of all,” said Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE) Pascal Lamy.

Another important milestone was the approval of the Chengdu Declaration on Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals. The document underlines the potential of the tourism sector in economic, social and environmental terms, and includes 21 articles that, among others, recommend to governments “to develop an integrated and holistic approach to tourism policy in order to leverage the sector’s positive impact on planet and prosperity (Article 1).” In addition, it proposes “to undertake national assessments on tourism’s contribution and commitment to the SDGs and ensure the inclusion of tourism in interministerial SDG commissions and/or working groups, as well as to enhance the contribution of tourism in SDGs national strategies through the set-up of institutional frameworks and mechanisms that allow participation of all stakeholders”.

Representing CABI, Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Memberships Director attended the General Assembly and associated events.

“In our Medium Term Strategy 2017-2019, we have aligned our strategies with SDGs as well as the requests of our member countries identified through our regional consultation process in 2015-16. Among priority requests were for CABI to provide information and training resources to support sustainable agro-tourism and other non-farm rural employment, particularly for women and youth. We aim to combine our experience of working with governments and local communities to build capacity with our vast resources in sustainable tourism to address such requests”, said Dr Zhang.

“Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth, and currently accounts for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide. Agro-tourism and rural tourism play important roles in sustainable tourism development, providing jobs in rural areas, helping families add to or replace their farming incomes. CABI is well positioned to make good contributions to Agro-tourism and rural tourism, in partnerships with national, regional and international bodies like UNWTO, and the private sector”, Dr Zhang continued.

World Tourism Day

Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development was the theme of World Tourism Day on 27 September, dedicated this year to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Official celebrations in Doha, Qatar, were structured around two sessions, focused on ‘Tourism as a driver of economic growth’, and ‘Tourism and the Planet: committed to a greener future.

As stated by UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, “as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017 the question is how we can enable the powerful global transformative force of tourism to contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development in all its five pillars: Economic, Social, Environmental, Cultural and Peace”.

“For an industry that produces 10% of global GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally, it is crucial we protect the growth to be sustainable.  his International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development should create a legacy based on three key aspects: better management to protect from impacts of T&T, continue working closely together as partners, not just UNWTO and WTTC, but private and public sectors across destinations and countries and to tell the stories, share the inspiration, keep talking about it,” said Helen Marrano, Senior Vice President at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), at the Opening of the event.

The Celebrations included a Keynote Speech on ‘Aviation’s Role in Building Sustainable Tourism’ given by Akbar Al Baker, Global GCEO of Qatar Airways and a High Level Think Tank on ‘Tourism as a means for creating opportunities, enhancing cultural preservation and mutual understanding’ moderated by Max Forster from CNN International. The session addressed the capacity of tourism to create jobs and bring new opportunities to communities as well as the contribution of the sector to wealth creation, investment and exports.

The Leisure Tourism database search de:tourism AND ("sustainable development" OR SDGs) currently finds almost 1000 bibliographic records.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 02 October 2017
  • Subject(s)
  • Tourism