12 months to celebrate and promote the contribution of the tourism sector to building a better world. This is the major goal of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The presentation of the International Year will take place in Madrid on 18 January 2017 on the occasion of the Spanish Tourism Fair, FITUR.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development recalling the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute effectively to the SDGs. The presentation of the International Year will take place in Madrid on 18 January 2017 on the occasion of the Spanish Tourism Fair, FITUR. Among those invited to the event, the Phoenicians’ Route – Cultural Route of the Council of Europe and pilot initiative of the World Tourism Organization.
“This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
The International Year will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:
- inclusive and sustainable economic growth;
- social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction;
- resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change;
- cultural values, diversity and heritage; and
- mutual understanding, peace and security.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world. UNWTO’s membership includes 157 countries, 6 Associate Members and 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. For more information, visit the website www.unwto.org.
At the local and global level, tourism is essential for sustainable development. The maintenance of this industry is critical to support our economy. Tourism continues to be accepted and pursued as a means of mitigating poverty worldwide. Countries of the world, particularly those in the developing world, see tourism as a tool for sustainable development. Define sustainable tourism can be challenging. What does that mean exactly? Sustainable tourism describes the use of tourism to support the economies without disrupting local cultures and ecological foundations underlying the industry and/or activities.
The decision of the United Nations, as stated by the Secretary General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, to declare 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for development is “a unique opportunity to promote the contribution of the tourism sector for the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental”, and to raise awareness on the real size of a sector that is often underestimated.