World Tourism Day (WTD) 2014
When we celebrate an international day or a UN special day, the usual call is for help or protection. In the case of vacations and tourism, it represents the major industry of many nations with an income of $1.4 trillion in export earnings. Our interest lies in eco-tourism however, which certainly needs more advertising in the more remote and unknown parts of the earth. The key is development, which usually destroys communities and wildlife, but can be harnessed to conserve and protect land ownership or human rights.
The World Tourism Organisation is now a UN entity, involving 156 countries, and therefore bends to different annual themes. This year Tourism and Community Development became the dominant idea, trying to empower people with the skills to change their local environment in the way they wish. That would certainly be something to celebrate today, given the awful alternatives.
Taleb Rifai s the Secretary General of this UN organisation and he puts it this way: Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction, and as such can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance. At the same time, there can be no real tourism development if such development damages in any way the values and the culture of host communities or if the socio-economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level. Last year Cintia Oliva from Chile won a first blogging competition for thee UNWTO, talking about the ancient Bribri culture of Costa Rica and their adaptation to modern life. Nguyen Thi Ba from Vietnam has his contribution here too as- How Tourism Changed My Life.
The official celebrations this year will take place any minute now in Guadalajara, Mexico. Meanwhile many enterprises worldwide should be able to take advantage of UN help. This was a Fair Trade story we had in South Africa:- Ecotourism and Fair Trade.