By Iminza Keboge and UNWTO Wire
Published February 1, 2017
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development has kicked off with the United Nations calling upon nations to harness the power in travel and tourism to improve their economies.
Describing tourism as “a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives,” Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations,appeals to world leaders to “harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
In his remarks during the launch of 2017 that has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development, Guterres says “Every day, more than three million tourists cross international borders. Every year, almost 1.2 billion people travel abroad.”
Also speaking during the launch that took place on January 18 in the framework of FITUR, Spain’s largest travel and tourism trade show in Madrid, was Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
“2017 is a unique opportunity for us to promote the contribution of tourism to achieving the future we want – and also to determine, together, the exact role we will have tourism play in the sustainable development agenda, to and beyond 2030. A unique opportunity to ensure that tourism is a pillar in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, said Dr Rifai.
Alfonso María Dastis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, noted that “Tourism is part of the Sustainable Development Goals and contributes decisively to almost all 17 Goals through its impacts on fighting poverty, promoting decent jobs, improving gender equality and the livelihoods of young people or the fight against climate change.”
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO and Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, also spoke at the event that also marked the launch of the International Year campaign ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect’, aimed at promoting sustainable tourism among travelers in partnership with CNN and RTVE media.