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Breaking Travel News investigates: UNWTO celebrates World Tourism Day
UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai welcomes delegates to Qatar for the World Tourism Day celebrations

Breaking Travel News investigates: UNWTO celebrates World Tourism Day

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation is seeking to raise awareness of sustainability in the hospitality sector as it celebrates World Tourism Day.

World Tourism Day has been celebrated since 1980 as the day in which the statutes of the World Tourism Organisation entered into force.

“Last year alone, 1.2 billion travellers crossed international borders in one single year,” said UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai.

“By 2030, this 1.2 billion will become 1.8 billion.

“The question, as we celebrate World Tourism Day 2017, is how we can enable this powerful global transformative force, these 1.8 billion opportunities, to contribute to make this world a better place and to advance sustainable development in all its three pillars.

“This World Tourism Day, whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to respect nature, respect culture and respect your host.”

The official celebrations of World Tourism Day 2017 will be held in Qatar, as decided by the UNWTO General Assembly.

The event will be structured around two sessions, focused on ‘Tourism as a driver of economic growth’, and ‘Tourism and the Planet: committed to a greener future’.

In addition, a high-level think tank will be conducted with the aim of opening the debate on the potential of the sector to enhance cultural preservation and mutual understanding.

On the Agenda will also be the presentation of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy, which advances sustainable approaches.

The initiative is aligned with the Qatar National Vision 2030, which focuses on economic, social and human development and prioritises tourism as a catalyst to progress towards a more diversified economy.

Hassan Al Ibrahim, acting chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, explained: “This momentous occasion on the international tourism industry’s calendar bears double significance for Qatar, as it comes at a time when tourism in our country is experiencing exciting and monumental changes.

“In recent years tourism has been recognised by our country’s leadership as a critical tool for sustainable development.

“In fact, tourism has been designated one of the five sectors that will drive economic diversification and ensure the country’s long-term sustainability.

“The importance of supporting tourism has become ever clearer, and continues to crystallise today.

“While other sectors suffered setbacks from economic and security challenges in recent years, tourism remained resilient, including in the Middle East, growing by three per cent in 2016.

“This has sent a strong signal to decision makers that tourism must be placed at the forefront of development plans in order to achieve sustainable, long-lasting growth that is safeguarded from turbulence in the world around us.”

Together with the events conducted in Qatar, the World Tourism Day will be celebrated across the globe.

As the United Nations General Assembly affirmed when announcing the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, tourism can contribute to all the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Not only does the sector spearhead growth, it also improves the quality of people’s lives.

It can bolster environmental protection, champion diverse cultural heritage, and strengthen peace in the world.

In this spirit, World Tourism Day 2017 presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.

Minister Bartlett, left, joins delegates in Qatar before the focus shifts to Jamaica in November

Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism

The theme will be explored later in the year when the UNWTO joins the government of Jamaica and the World Bank Group in hosting a Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism in the Caribbean.

The event will be hosted on November 27th-29th in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and is organised in collaboration with Chemonics International and with the support of George
Washington University, two esteemed UNWTO Affiliate Members. 

Jamaica itself is recognised as the Caribbean’s Leading Tourism Destination by the World Travel Awards.

The conference will bring together world leaders from the tourism industry along with governments, donors, international development and finance organizations to design and coordinate an international road map and foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development via tourism.

The conference will seek to identify successful models and future initiatives of public-private partnerships that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally.

Find out more about the event here.