Harnessing tourism’s immense benefits will be critical to achieving the sustainable development goals and implementing the post 2015 development agenda.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The theme chosen for 2014 WTD is Tourism and Community Development for focusing special attention to the role of tourism in contributing to one of the building blocks of a more sustainable future for all: Community development. The theme follows the global transition to the Sustainable Development Goals as the guiding principle promoted by the UN from 2015 and beyond.
The aim of the WTD is to raise awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching these goals.
As a sector representing 9% of global GDP, one in 11 jobs worldwide, and a key revenue sector for developing and emerging economies, tourism is widely acknowledged for its capacity to respond to global challenges. The consolidation of tourism’s economic influence has built up its social responsibility and political relevance, with a growing number of countries allocating a stronger mandate to tourism in economic and development policy planning.
With the special focus on the community, WTD 2014 highlights how tourism can be conducive to advancing sustainable development from the grassroots level. Community based tourism involves the local population in the decision making process according to local priorities. The opportunity to become part of the tourism value chain actively involves host communities in the development process. Tourism is a powerful catalyst of social cohesion, going beyond the immediate impact of job creation and its positive economic consequences.
Every year, UNWTO invites all interested parties to take part on 27 September each year in the special celebrations taking place in their respective country or holiday destination. This year’s official celebrations will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico and include a high-level Think Tank on the 2014 theme with the participation of tourism Ministers, international experts and policy makers in the field of tourism and development.
With international tourism forecast to reach 1.6 billion arrivals by 2020, the UNWTO has developed a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, “to help minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and on cultural heritage while maximising the benefits for residents of tourism destinations”. It includes sections on ‘The Responsible Tourist’, ‘Trips for travellers’ and ‘Sustainable development’ (download on www.unwto.org/ethics/index.php).