A Year Of Sustainable Tourism
International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 kicks off
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a specialised United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. This leading international organisation promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability while offering leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
“Every day, more than three million tourists cross international borders. Every year, almost 1.2 billion people travel abroad. Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,“said United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in his message on the occasion of the International Year.
Nearly 600 participants attended the Official Launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 on 18 January 2017. The event was held at the International Tourism Fair of Spain (FITUR) in Madrid, and will be followed by 12 months of global actions aimed at advancing sustainable tourism contribution to the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development. Max Forster of CNN and Raquel Martinez of
RTVE hosted the event while underlining the immense socio-economic opportunities brought by the sector to all societies as well as its power to advocate for mutual understanding, peace and sustainable development worldwide.
“2017 is a unique opportunity for us to promote the contribution of tourism to achieving the future we want – and also to determine, together, the exact role we will have tourism play in the sustainable development agenda, to and beyond 2030. A unique opportunity to ensure that tourism is a pillar in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, during the opening of the event.
The International year will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas. The first being an inclusive and sustainable economic growth, the second a social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction, the third resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change. The fourth are cultural values, diversity and heritage, last but not least mutual understanding, peace and security are essential to achieve the goals set out.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia mentioned that the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development emphasized the common global challenges all the nations are facing. Though difficult, it will be possible to resolve it through advancing relations and further partnerships. Initiatives as such will highlight the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are the focal point of future development, and help guide countries towards creating long-term assets while preventing relevant liabilities.
“The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 is an incentive to foster social and political dialogue which can promote initiatives, investments and government actions leading to development and the fight against poverty,” shared the VicePresident of Honduras, Ricardo Alvarez Arias.
Last but definitely not the least, Alfonso María Dastis, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain mentioned, ”The 2030 Agenda considers sustainable tourism as a vector of development, job creation and the promotion of local culture and products. Tourism is part of the Sustainable Development Goals and contributes decisively to almost all 17 Goals through its impacts on fighting poverty, promoting decent jobs, improving gender equality and the livelihoods of young people or the fight against climate change.”
Other notable guests who addressed the ceremony were Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO, and Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.