Tourism is today one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. It contributes 9 per cent to global GDP, accounts for one in 11 jobs worldwide, and for 6 per cent of global exports.
By 2030, UNWTO forecasts that there will be 1.8 billion international tourism arrivals annually.
If not sustainably managed however, tourism can deplete natural resources leading to water shortages, loss of biodiversity, land degradation and contribute to climate change and pollution, among other impacts. Tourism’s contribution to global warming is estimated at 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions.
“Without proper management and protection, as well as investments in greening the sector, ecosystems and thousands of magnificent species will suffer,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"Tourism has been identified by UNEP as one of the ten economic sectors best able to contribute to the transition to a sustainable and inclusive green economy. This important initiative is about steering the industry onto a truly sustainable path -- one that echoes to the challenge of our time: namely the fostering of a global Green Economy that thrives on the interest, rather than the capital, of our economically important nature-based assets." he added.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, “As the leading organization for tourism, the World Tourism Organization seeks to maximize tourism’s contribution to development while minimizing its negative impacts”.
A new international programme that aims to catalyze a shift to more sustainable tourism over the next decade was launched at the World Travel Market in London this week.
The Sustainable Tourism Programme of the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) will be led by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations and the Governments of France, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Korea, with the support of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts the 10YFP Secretariat.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, “UNWTO is pleased to be at the helm of such an important initiative and to be collaborating with governments and institutions to implement the 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme.”