The tourism sector’s contribution to communities’ empowerment as one of the pillars of sustainable development was at the heart of this year’s World Tourism Day (Sept. 27) celebrations.
World Tourism Day (WTD) was celebrated this year under the theme “Tourism & Community Development,” highlighting the community dimension as one of the key pillars of sustainable development. Organized by UNWTO and the Government of Mexico, the official WTD celebrations took place in the city of Guadalajara (Jalisco) with the presence of President Peña Nieto, tourism ministers and private sector representatives from around the world.
Representing more than 8% of Mexico’s GDP and employing 7% of the national workforce, “this rapidly growing sector attracts investment and drives local and regional development, while providing opportunities for growth, particularly for women and youth”, said Nieto addressing WTD participants. “Tourism is a great social tool reducing inequalities and helping our communities to progress. Due to the potential of this activity, the government has identified tourism as a sector of major relevance.”
In his WTD message, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said, “This year’s observance of World Tourism Day focuses on the ability of tourism to fully empower people. Engaging local populations in tourism development builds stronger and more resilient communities. Tourism helps people to develop a variety of skills. As a service sector with cross-cutting impact on agriculture, construction or handicrafts, tourism creates millions of jobs and business opportunities. 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.”
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai highlighted that, “there can be no real tourism development if it damages the values and culture of host communities, or if the socio-economic benefits generated by tourism do not trickle down to the community level. I would like to invite all tourism stakeholders and host communities to come together and celebrate this day as a symbol of our common efforts in making tourism a true pillar of community development and community development the basis of a more sustainable future.”