Tourism sec­tor sets target to at­tain SDGs

Swazi Observer - - BUSINESS - Sto­ries by Ma­jaha Nkonyane

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.

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