TOURISM, ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST important economic sectors, celebrated the World Tourism Day 2021, with the theme “Tourism For Inclusive Growth”, September 27, 2021. Global tourism employs one in every ten people living in the world. It also provides means of livelihoods to hundreds of millions more persons, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, UNWTO.
The global tourism sector has been plagued, and faced unprecedented challenge as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The global slump in the tourism industry, due to governments polices on lock-down and travel restrictions, since the outbreak of the pandemic; have impacted negatively in the industry. UNWTO, now focuses on returning the sector to global economic and social recovery.
The first five months of 2021, according to UNWTO, international tourists arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world; and forecasts suggest a loss of over $4 trillion to global GDP by the end of 2021. The global tourism body said will be a major shock for developed economies; for developing countries, it is an emergency. Tourism continues to suffer enormously under COVID-19 pandemic.
In its commitment towards global tourism recovery, UNWTO’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee embarked on uniting the tourism sector, by formulating range of “sector-wide response to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, commenting on tourism recovery from COVID-19 crisis said: “This crisis is an opportunity to rethink the tourism sector and its contribution to the people and planet; an opportunity to build back better towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism sector that ensure the benefits of tourism are enjoyed widely and fairly.”
UNWTO is taking the lead on the way forward for global economic tourism. The body is uniting tourism leaders from all over the world. “Now more than ever, we need a sector united on behalf of the millions of people who have trusted their future to the power of tourism to drive sustainable growth”, the tourism world body said.
WORLD TOURISM DAY 2021, with the theme “Tourism For Inclusive Growth”, is designated as a day to draw global attention on the need to focus on tourism for inclusive growth. The developed and developing economies have been hit the COVID-19 pandemic. UNWTO, also, said the “marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all”.
On the occasion of celebrating 2021 World Tourism Day, UNWTO invites Member States, as well as non-members, sister UN agencies, businesses and individuals to celebrate tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up again and look to the future of tourism, as global economic sector growth and sustainability.
UNWTO celebrates the World Tourism Day, September 27, every year. Events, usually lined up on the occasion, draws global attention to fostering awareness of tourism social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
SECRETARY-GENERAL of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili’s message on 2021 World Tourism Day, reinvigorated that tourism should be opened to everyone to enjoy inclusiveness. “So too must the many social and economic benefits that tourism brings be available to everybody”.
He said World Tourism Day 2021, highlights the power of Tourism for inclusive growth. “By celebrating this day, we state our commitment that, as tourism grows, the benefits that come will be felt at every level of our broad and diverse sector, from the biggest airline to the smallest family business.
“Today, we reaffirm our pledge that, as we move forward and work to build a more prosperous and peaceful world through tourism, we will not leave anyone behind. It is a pledge that is both timely and necessary. The pause in international travel caused by the pandemic has made clear the relevance of tourism to our societies”, Secretary-General said.
Economic and social impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Zurab Pololikashvili, further stated, has been felt far beyond the sector. In many places, the most vulnerable members of society have been hardest hit. “Working for inclusive growth means getting everybody behind a better vision for tourism. Only this way can tourism’s restart reach the people and communities that need it the most right now and build the foundations for a better future for all”.
He said “I welcome all our Members, Affiliate Members, governments, destinations and businesses to join us in marking this day, celebrated as tourism’s importance to every part of our societies is more evident than ever before”.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, UN Secretary-General’s message on 2021 World Tourism Day, said “we recognize the power and potential of tourism to advance prosperity and drive inclusive, sustainable development. The tourism sector touches almost every part of our economies and societies, enabling historically marginalized people and those at risk of being left behind to benefit from development that is local and direct”.
He said tourism continues to suffer enormously under the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected in the first five months of 2021 international tourist arrivals; which decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world. And forecasts suggest a loss of over $4 trillion to global GDP by the end of 2021; which will be a major shock for developed economies, and could pose an emergency for developing countries.
Guterres, also, touched on global climate change, adversely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly “Small Island Developing State”; where tourism accounts for nearly 30 percent of economic activities.
He said millions of livelihoods could be in jeopardy, so “it is time to rethink, transform and safely restart tourism”. With right safeguards in place, Guterres said “the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”.
Guterres, further stated that “this means targeted action and investment to shift towards green tourism — with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality”. He said “it means giving everybody a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies and our planet”.
He said “only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential as an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples”.
NIGERIA, A DEVELOPING COUNTRY, tourism is significantly, left behind in the global trend, due to unabating insecurity in the country – insurgency, banditry kidnapping, armed robbery and other forms of economic and social crimes.
Nigeria is endowed with vast tourism potentials – due to its diverse glittering customs, tradition and culture. Vast underdeveloped and untapped tourism sites and destinations abounded in states and regions of the country. But little efforts are given by national, states and local authorities toward developing the tourism sector of the economy.
Annual national or state governments budgets, in Nigeria, give little or no allocation to tourism development – both short, medium and long term; despite huge global economic and social advantages of tourism development globally, both in advanced and developing countries. The country’s leaders appear unfriendly to developing the tourism sector.