The travel and tourism industry is in a perpetual state of annexation, diversification and evolution. Statistics show that it has become one fastest growing economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. Arrivals of international tourists all over the world have burst forth from 25 million in 1950 to approximately 1.2 billion in 2016.This sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally with an estimation that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3.3% annually until 2030. (Source: http://www2.unwto.org/
Why has tourism suddenly upsurged?
This exponential growth over the second half of the 20th century and the whole of 21st is due to the fact that access to tourism has progressively expanded thanks to the recognition of the “Right to Holidays” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Additionally, in recent decades the emanation of new technologies applied to the tourism trade and the shrinking price of transport, especially air transport, have ushered an increase in international travel.
This year’s theme: Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development
The theme for this year's International Tourism Day is Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development In 2017, the celebration of this day focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to the development and it is being held in Doha (Qatar
) on Wednesday, 27th of September. Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political, holistic and economic values worldwide.
What is Sustainable Development?
Celebrated in line with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the Day will be dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), “Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” In layman’s terms, Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. It should thus make optimal use of environmental resources, respect host communities and ensure viable, long-term economic operations so that benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.
How has it affected the Indian Tourism Industry?
With the advent of affordable technology and ease of internet access, the travel and tourism industry, especially the Indian Tourism industry has experienced phenomenal growth. Tourism in India
is economically vital and is growing exponentially. The World Travel & Tourism Council calculated that the Indian Tourism Industry has benefited greatly by tourism generating 14.02 lakh crore(US$220 billion) or 9.6% of the nation's GDP in 2016 and supported 40.343 million jobs, 9.3% of its total employment.
The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.8% to 28.49 lakh crore(US$440 billion) by 2027 (10% of GDP).The most popular destinations in India have traditionally been Agra, Delhi, Leh-Ladakh, Nainital, Kullu Manali, Nainital in the north, Jaisalmer, Ajmer, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Rann of Kutch, Gaya in the west and the centre, Hampi, Badami, Ooty, Mysore, Hyderabad, Kerala in the south and the seven - sisters, Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Darjeeling in the east to name a few. However there have been many more up and coming, offbeat destinations all around the country such as Goa, Gokarna, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, McLeodganj, Kasol, Kodaikanal, Coorg, Konkan etc. which ultimately open India’s doors to hopeful tourists.
How can sustainable, well-managed tourism make a difference?
Well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a phenomenal contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental, and has close linkages to other domains creating a fitting number of jobs and generating trade opportunities.
Thus it is crucial for all players, including organizations operating in the sector, to be aware of opportunities and responsibilities alike, and to act accordingly so that their actions make positive ripples in the society, in order to ensure the sustainability of the destination and their businesses. Hence, it is absolutely imperative that the best practices and the “ancient wisdom” held by traditional travel agents and tour operators in the Indian Tourism industry be passed on to the future generations that will function in the travel and tourism industry.
How is it different this year?
2017 provides a unique opportunity to reiterate our commitment to sustainability and move forward to ensure the positive impact of well-managed tourism on inclusive and equitable growth, sustainable development and peace.