New Year Mes­sage from UNWTO

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL -

Dear friends,

I write to you as I be­gin my fi­nal year as UNWTO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, a po­si­tion I have been priv­i­leged to hold for al­most seven years at an Agency I have been proud to serve for the past decade.

Dur­ing this time I have seen tourism be­come one of the world’s most im­por­tant and im­pact­ful so­cio-eco­nomic sec­tors of our times. I have seen its grow­ing rel­e­vance to the lives of mil­lions around the world, to the preser­va­tion of our com­mon val­ues and to greater un­der­stand­ing among peo­ple of all walks of life.

I have seen in­creas­ing com­mit­ment from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, with many coun­tries re­al­iz­ing the po­ten­tial for tourism to be­come a pil­lar of their devel­op­ment. This com­mit­ment is at­tested to by the in­clu­sion of tourism in the univer­sal 17 Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) agreed upon by 193 na­tions in 2015.

And now I am very priv­i­leged and grate­ful to be cel­e­brat­ing 2017 as the In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism for Devel­op­ment. The UN Gen­eral Assem­bly’s de­ci­sion to ded­i­cate 2017 to tourism’s con­tri­bu­tion to sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive growth was no co­in­ci­dence. Tourism is in­creas­ingly and rightly be­ing rec­og­nized as a sec­tor that can help usher in a bet­ter world.

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.

Of course, many chal­lenges re­main be­fore our sec­tor. Yet if there is one thing I will al­ways re­mem­ber from my time in this cap­ti­vat­ing and re­ward­ing sec­tor, it is that tourism is a sec­tor of hope. Not only is it one of the most re­silient eco­nomic sec­tors, but it also unites peo­ple across back­grounds, cul­tures and con­ti­nents ev­ery day. Through travel, we gain un­der­stand­ing, tol­er­ance, and em­pa­thy for our fel­low man – es­sen­tial in the glob­al­iza­tion era, where our global vil­lage can only pros­per through har­mo­nious liv­ing.

The tremen­dous hope that our sec­tor pro­vides should in­spire us all to act for the good of peo­ple and planet. To­gether we can be the change we want to see.

Let us all re­mem­ber that what­ever we do in life; our core busi­ness is to make this world a bet­ter place. I wish you a very happy In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism for Devel­op­ment 2017. Taleb Ri­fai Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNWTO)

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