NEW YORK, The United Nations is marking this year’s World Tourism Day,WTD, by exploring how technological advances such as big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms can contribute to the way people travel and foster innovation in the tourism industry.
World Tourism Day, celebrated every 27th September around the world, is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.
The WTD official celebration is taking place in Budapest, Hungary, a country enjoying steady growth of tourism backed by consistent policy support and a commitment to the digital future.
The official celebration will also see the announcement of the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, launched by UNWTO and Globalia to give visibility to startups with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism.
“The digital transformation is about providing benefits to all, and we are making sure that tourism contributes to this global commitment,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Tourism has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, according to the Madrid-based UNWTO, with international tourist arrivals having grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today. The sector represents an estimated 10 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 1 in 10 jobs globally.
UNWTO expects that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3 percent annually until 2030, as more people have access to travel thanks to the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, and growing middle classes worldwide.
“The sheer size of global tourism and its impact on many other sectors, and all of the Sustainable Development Goals, puts it at the forefront of social responsibility, which today goes hand-in-hand with innovation on all levels,” said Pololikashvili.
“Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda,” he added.
In his message for the Day, Secretary-General Ant?nio Guterres said the wide reach of tourism into many sectors, from infrastructure and energy to transport and sanitation, and its huge impact on job creation, make it a vital contributor to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the same time, tourism plays a “pivotal” role in advancing cultural understanding and bringing people together.
“Yet tourism needs innovation in technology to realize its potential contributions,” he stated, adding that its benefits need to flow to host communities.
“On World Tourism Day, I call on governments to support digital technologies that can transform the way we travel, reduce the ecological burden of tourism and bring the benefits of tourism to all.”
Source: Emirates News Agency