The human desire to travel and explore is universal but the Covid-19 pandemic not only crippled both developed and developing economies but also had a massive social and economic impact which hit the marginalized groups and the most vulnerable, hardest of all. This is why the lifting of travel curbs and restart of tourism is needed now to help kickstart recovery and growth.
This year, World Tourism Day highlights tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up again and look to the future. This is additional to the day’s objective to highlight the travel sector’s importance in preserving and promoting culture and heritage all around the world.
Date and history
Ever since 1980, World Tourism Day is celebrated annually across the world on September 27. It was on this day in 1970 when the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization were adopted which are considered a milestone in global tourism.
This paved the way for the establishment of UNWTO five years later. UNWTO celebrated the first World Tourism Day as an international observance on September 27, 1980.
The purpose of World Tourism Day is to raise awareness on the important of tourism in affecting the social, cultural, political and economic values of international community. In the ongoing pandemic times, it is important to raise awareness about the tourism sector given that 90% of world heritages sites closed as a result of the pandemic last year and young people in rural communities were unemployed.
An additional 32 million people were pushed into extreme poverty in 20201. In least-developed countries especially, women have been hit hardest by the global crisis caused by the pandemic and one reason for this is that they mainly work in the tourism and other sectors that were most-affected by Covid-19 spread.
According to UNWTO, World Tourism Day “is the global observance day fostering awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The theme for World Tourism Day 2021 is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. UNWTO has designated it such as an opportunity to look beyond tourism statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person.
The global organisation “invites its 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.”
In a statement, UNWTO mentioned that it, along with the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism, is guiding the global sector towards inclusive recovery and growth. “UNWTO ensures every part of the sector has a say in its future – including communities, minorities, youth and those who would otherwise be at risk of being left behind,” the statement read.