The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has revealed that as of today, a billion people have crossed international borders in 2012 – a new annual record – and outlined what each tourist can do to ensure they travel sustainably.
The number of yearly tourists has grown from just 25 million people in the 1950s to a billion today – an increase of nearly 4,000%.
With the tourism sector now accounting for one in every 12 jobs and 9% of global GDP, UNWTO has urged tourists to “make their actions count” by finding ways to benefit the people and places they visit on their travels.
A public poll found that buying local produce and goods was the most effective way of doing this, following closely by respecting the local culture and learning about local traditions.
“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist”, said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai.
“Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists.
“Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future.”
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon highlighted the role of tourism in tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, on World Tourism Day back in September.
“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”, he said in a statement.
Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Tourism from earlier this year delves into the subject in more detail, by speaking to some of the UK sector’s biggest names.
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