Ban Ki-moon has played up the role of tourism in tackling some of the world’s most urgent challenges, including climate change and a global shift to a green economy.
The UN secretary general was speaking to mark the World Tourism Day celebrations yesterday – in which thousands of people across the globe clubbed together to raise the awareness of tourism’s importance.
The theme of this year’s event centred on tourism and sustainable energy, and officials from both camps collaborated to discuss how each could contribute to reaching the UN’s millennium development goals.
“One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy”, said Ban in a statement.
“Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend for income on this energy-intensive sector.
“Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment.”
The main proceedings for World Tourism Day were being held in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, and hosted by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). But there were a number of supplementary gatherings taking place across the world to mark the 32nd annual event.
Alain St. Ange, minister for tourism and culture in the Seychelles, called for people in his country to “take steps to understand this tourism industry upon which our present and future prosperity depends.”
He added, “Let us support it in all that we do, and in so doing, we will ensure that it grows from strength to strength.
“One way to do this is to take interest in strengthening and in invigorating our unique Seychellois Creole culture.”
Meanwhile in South Africa, Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, said, “As a long-haul destination, our carbon offset needs to be particularly good to attract travellers who may see this as a critical factor in their travel decision-making.
“From a general perception that each facet of the tourism supply chain is invested in a sustainability transition to the tangible proof – like tree planting programmes, energy efficient lighting and clever use of technology – we need to really roll up our sleeves when it comes to the sustainable development and conservation of energy.”
According to the UNWTO, tourism accounts for 5% of the world’s energy consumption, so its influence in achieving widespread sustainability cannot be overlooked.
No more is there a sacrifice to be made in terms the experience you have on holiday if you choose a sustainable route. In many cases, it will be far greater, and you will be travelling safe in the knowledge that you’re only leaving your mark on the Earth – and not your footprint.