On World Tourism Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarked that tourism touches practically every element of our economy and communities, allowing the historically excluded and those at risk of being left behind to benefit from development.
According to a recent estimate from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism might cost the world economy more than $4 trillion.
This is a significant shock for industrialized economies, but it is a crisis for underdeveloped ones. Climate change is wreaking havoc on many of the world’s most popular tourist spots, notably in the Small Island Developing States. Tourism contributes to roughly 30% of all economic activity in the country.
Mr. Guterres acknowledged that many millions of people’s livelihoods are at peril, saying that it is now “time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism”. “With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”, he added.
Tourism is a recognized pillar of most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism (UNWTO), particularly Goals 1 (poverty eradication), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), and 10 (environmental protection) (to reduce inequalities).
Mr. Guterres continued in his statement by urging targeted action and investment in green and sustainable tourism, “with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transportation and hospitality, moving toward carbon neutrality”.
The UN head went on to argue that everyone should have a say in how tourism influences the future of our society, concluding that only by inclusive decision-making can we assure inclusive, sustainable growth, fulfill the SDGs’ promise, and transform tourism to its full potential.
According to Mr. Guterres, the sector may therefore become a source of prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means of protecting our planet and biodiversity, and a facilitator of cross-cultural understanding.