Rethinking Tourism as a powerful driver for sustainable development
World Tourism Day, observed on 27 September, celebrates the power of tourism to foster inclusion, protect nature and promote cultural understanding. This year’s official celebration, Rethinking Tourism, will be hosted by Indonesia, celebrating this opportunity to rethink how we do tourism for a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient sector. We need to fully showcase the potential of tourism to create jobs for all and bring communities together.
As United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, tourism is a powerful driver for sustainable development. It contributes to the education and empowerment of women and youth and advances the socioeconomic and cultural development of communities. It plays a critical part in the social protection systems that form the foundation for resilience and prosperity.
We must invest in clean and sustainable tourism, lowering the sector’s energy consumption, adopting zero-emission pathways and protecting biodiversity. We must create decent jobs and ensure profits benefit the host country and local communities. Governments, businesses and consumers must align their tourism practices with the Sustainable Development Goals and a 1.5°C future. The very survival of this industry and many tourist destinations, such as small island developing States, depends on it.
This year’s United Nations Ocean Conference, where the global community and the tourism sector committed to building a legally binding agreement on plastics pollution by 2024, represents an important first step. There is no time to waste. Let us rethink and reinvent tourism and together, deliver a more sustainable, prosperous and resilient future for all.
World Tourism Organization data reveals national tourist arrivals at the start of 2022 were double the level recorded in 2021. In some regions, arrivals are already at, or even above, pre-pandemic levels. The lifting of the remaining travel restrictions, alongside rising consumer confidence, will be important drivers for the sector’s recovery, bringing hope and opportunity to many millions of people around the world.
World Tourism Day will be celebrated as the shift towards tourism is being recognized as a crucial pillar for development and as progress is well underway. May 2022 marked the first time the United Nations General Assembly held a special debate on tourism, illustrating the historic relevance of the sector. Tourism is now on the agenda of governments and of international organizations in every global region.
At the same time, destinations and businesses are proactively adapting to meet challenges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the wave of signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, spearheaded by UNWTO.
Tourism’s International Observance Day will put people at the center of key discussions. Where is tourism going? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?
The theme “Rethinking Tourism” will reflect this. It aims to inspire the debate around rethinking tourism for development, including through education and jobs, and tourism’s impact on the planet and opportunities to grow more sustainably.