Despite the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has played particular havoc with the international tourism sector, celebrations for World Tourism Day have remained on track.
Every year, on 27 September, the world celebrates World Tourism Day, with the UNWTO marking this year with the theme “Tourism and Rural Development”.
Unlike previous years, this year’s event are different due to the global health crisis, which has caused major crises on that sector in particular. The travel and tourism industry over the world has been one of the worst-hit sectors amid the sudden worldwide lockdowns earlier this year.
UNWTO data revealed that 100 million to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk, with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) adding its expectations that there will be a loss of 1.5% to 2.8% of global GDP.
“On this World Tourism Day, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the sustainable development goals, through its social, cultural, political, and economic value,” the UN said, “Tourism can eventually help us move beyond the pandemic, by bringing people together and promoting solidarity and trust, crucial ingredients in advancing the global cooperation so urgently needed at this time.”
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said that tourism has proven to be a lifeline for many rural communities. However, its true force still needs to be fully deployed. The sector is not just a leading source of employment, particularly for women and youth, but it also provides opportunities for socio-economic inclusion for the most vulnerable regions.
“Tourism helps rural communities hold onto their unique natural and cultural heritage and support conservation projects, including those safeguarding endangered species, lost traditions or flavours,” Pololikashvili said.
World Tourism Day has been commemorated on 27 September each year since 1980, with the date marking the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes in 1970.