Published on : Friday, January 27, 2017
2017 has been declared as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” by the United Nations. It was launched officially by the UNWTO on January 18 in Madrid. To quote the UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, “In 2016, more than 1.2 billion people travelled around the world for tourism purposes and another 6 billion people travelled domestically.”
He stressed on the need for promoting sustainable tourism throughout the world. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said, “Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Dr. Rifai said tourism should be promoted that is respectful of the environment for preserving countries’ resources and natural wealth. Sustainable tourism is also important for stimulating economies, creating jobs and incomes and development of countries and their populations. With its abundance of exceptional flora and fauna, legendary landscapes and varied cultural heritage, Africa offers a largely untapped tourism potential.
Representing over 15% of the world population, the continent currently attracts a small share of the world’s tourists. However, tourism sector in the continent has increased nearly fourfold in the last 15 years. In 2014, the sector accounted for 8.7 million jobs in Africa.