Tourism sector sets target to attain SDGs
THE tourism sector has set a target to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the industry continues to grow and improves.
Speaking during the commemoration of the World Tourism Day held at the Malolotja Nature Reserve on Wednesday, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Christopher Gamedze said it was critical for the sector to support the inclusive sustainable growth agenda for the country.
“As we move towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) post 2015, we echo the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) commitment to demonstrate the value of the sector while promoting tourism development that is responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible, in support of the inclusive and sustainable agenda in the country,” he said.
Gamedze said the tourism sector has a great contribution to growth.
He said this was one of the reasons that the sector continually works on such goals, which include better taking care of the environment and social development. The minister said the benefits that come from tourism have been placed as an opportunity that could help the sector to better achieve the sustainable goals.
He said tourism has created jobs, alleviated poverty, promoted gender equality and has also protected natural and cultural heritage.
“In order for us to achieve the equitable balance, to accomplish both tourism and development agendas, policy makers and businesses need to commit to sustainable development policies and approaches that protect the environment as a vital tool in the growth of tourism,” he said.
He said apart from contributing locally, tourism also plays a part in the growth of the global economy, which is an important contributor to achievement of the SDGs and an integral, positive element in society.
He said there were also multiplier effects on related sectors that the sector also contributes to.
These include trade, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.
Gamedze said the sector also contributes to the transition towards a green economy through investments in energy and water efficiency.
Other benefits that come from the growth of tourism include climate change mitigation through reduction in green house gas emissions, waste reduction, biodiversity, and cultural heritage conservation, and the strengthening of linkages with local communities.
“Instead of viewing the sustainability effort purely as monetary costs, a sustainable tourism business will actually foster the industry’s growth, create more and better jobs, consolidate higher investment returns, benefit local development, and contribute to poverty reduction, while raising awareness and support for the suitable use of natural resources,” he said.