New York, 27 September 2014 – In harnessing the benefits of global tourism, the international community will take “critical” steps forward in advancing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and post-2015 development agenda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
In a message delivered to mark the annual observance of World Tourism Day, the Secretary-General emphasized the benefits of tourism for local communities, adding that as an industry it “helps people to develop a variety of skills” and builds “stronger and more resilient communities.”
“As a service sector with cross-cutting impact on agriculture, construction or handicrafts, tourism creates millions of jobs and business opportunities,” Mr. Ban noted.
“Its capacity to lift people from poverty, promote gender empowerment and help protect the environment has made it a vital tool for achieving positive change in communities across the world.”
Celebrated annually on 27 September, World Tourism Day serves to raise awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and the contributions it can make in the economic, political and social sectors.
This year’s theme, Tourism and Community Development will focus on “the ability of tourism to empower people and provide them with skills to achieve change in their local communities,” according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, also highlighted the important role played by tourism in developing communities, particularly when engaging local populations by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance.
“There can be no real tourism development if such development damages in any way the values and the culture of host communities or if the socio-economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level,” affirmed Mr. Rifai in his messasge on the Day.
“This year’s World Tourism Day represents an opportunity to further advance tourism’s contribution to economic, social and environmental sustainability,” he continued.
“Empowering individuals and communities around the world at all levels through tourism can be a fundamental step towards these goals.”