Management of Tourism for growth is not the enemy

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Management of Tourism for growth is not the enemy

By Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

As an economic activity, travel and tourism is relatively young; yet it has become today, a sector central to our societies and to our way of life. Today, tourism generates 10% of the world’s GDP, 1 in every 10 jobs and 30% of world trade in services. It is key to many countries’ balance of payments and livelihoods.

A sustainable tourism sector is one that promotes environmental preservation and protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, but more importantly, it promotes engagement, commitment and respect for local communities. Managing the growing number of visitors to many popular areas of our planet, including cities, is crucial for both hosts and visitors, both international and domestic. In countries such as Spain or France the share of domestic tourists is higher than that of international visitors.

All the efforts of enterprise, government, civil society and travellers in the last decades to shape a more responsible and committed global tourism sector should not be in vain. We can and should be able to continue capitalizing on the sector and its benefits in terms of job creation, economic development and cultural interaction, while curbing its negative effects and impacts.

Every growing human activity has a downside to it. The answer should never be to halt the activity, and lose all its clear benefits, but rather to live up to the challenge and manage it correctly. This is the real challenge. We should ensure that our conviction to improve the sector is today stronger than ever. Otherwise, the value of the sector will naturally be lost and contested.

Let us remember the motto of the campaign of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development: to

Travel, Enjoy and Respect.

Read full article in UNWTO webpage

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