Each time we travel, use local transport at a destination or buy products from a local market we are contributing to a long value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and ultimately brings in new opportunities for a better future.
The theme of World Tourism Day 2014 – Tourism and Community Development – brings to the forefront the potential that tourism has to promote new socio-economic opportunities and better livelihoods for communities around the world while highlighting the critical role that community engagement has in advancing sustainable development.
Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction, and as such can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance. At the same time, 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. As stated in the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, “local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate”.
As we approach the 2015 deadline established for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and prepare to embrace the new Sustainable Development Goals, this year’s World Tourism Day represents an opportunity to further advance tourism’s contribution to economic, social and environmental sustainability. Empowering individuals and communities around the world at all levels through tourism can be a fundamental step towards these goals.
On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2014, 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 tourism sector.