World Tourism Day 2016

Posted by Patrick Mills on 27 September 2016 | Comments

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With almost 1.2 billion people travelling abroad each year, tourism has become a prodigious economic sector and a powerful tool in creating prosperity and peace for millions of people worldwide.

United Nations World Tourism Day takes place every year on 27th September. It seeks to highlight tourism’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Spearheaded by the United Nations, the goals were adopted by 154 heads of state as part of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

In light of World Tourism Day, here are five initiatives from across the globe that reflect tourism's synergy with the 2030 visions of sustainability.

1. Bale Mountain Lodge

As the first high-end lodge within an Ethiopian national park, Bale Mountain Lodge has set the national standard for wildlife-based tourism, supporting the environment, providing alternative sources of income and establishing a community trust to engage local people in conservation.

Ethiopia’s budget for protected areas is relatively low compared to its high levels of biodiversity and, with financial and human resources spread thin, there is limited conservation capacity for the national wildlife authority. In bringing tourists to Bale Mountains National Park, the lodge is generating additional revenue that can be used to strengthen the wildlife authority’s ability to manage the park.

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Photo Credit: Ron Knight - Bale Mountain National Park

2. Protecting the backwaters

Unregulated tourism expansion in Alleppey, Kerala (India) is threatening rural communities and their environment, as well as undermining the economic benefits it brings to local people. Tourism Concern is carrying out research on tourism carrying capacity and developing a Code of Conduct for houseboat operators (and tourists themselves). This campaign is looking to implement effective regulation that takes into account the voices of local people empowering affected communities.

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Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar - Kerala Houseboat

3. Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT)

Frequently poached for its fur and organs, the Malayan tiger is a highly endangered species in peninsular Malaysia. As a way to fund conservation initiatives and abate poaching numbers, the Malayan Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) offers visitors the opportunity to participate in guided weekend treks through the unprotected Sungai Yu Wildlife corridor in central Malaysia.

CAT volunteers get to enjoy Malaysia’s great outdoors and experience its flora and fauna, while assisting MYCAT and local authorities in reporting signs of illegal activity and disarming snares and traps. Since 2010, CAT has led to the dismantlement of more than 100 snares.

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Photo Credit: B_Cool - Malayan Tiger

4. Papua New Guinea’s National Climate Plan

Papua New Guinea has taken a global lead in combating climate change and is the first country to formally submit the final version of its national climate action plan under the Paris Agreement. The Pacific nation's plans to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 will have an enormous influence on its future tourism development strategies.

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Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski - Solomon Islands

5. The Largest Marine Reserve

Against huge opposition from the fishing industry, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has extended the Papahānaumokuākea (pronounced Pa-pa-hah-now-mo-koo-ah-keh-ah) Marine National Monument to four times its original size. Covering a half-million-square-miles, and now the largest marine park in the world, this sends a message to the global tourism market that Hawaii has marine environments worth seeing (and protecting), potentially increasing access for more ecotourism businesses.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters - Papahānaumokuākea Marine Monument

International tourist arrivals are estimated to grow to 1.8 billion by the 2030. As we embark on a strong sustainable trajectory, we will likely see more and more destinations worldwide investing in the tourism industry, using it as a valuable tool for socio-economic progress. World Tourism Day serves as a reminder that tourism, if managed responsibly, can play an important part in achieving our 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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