Tourism can show the way forward in achieving Global Goals (en)

6 junio 2017
ITC Noticias
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is an opportunity to advance the contribution of tourism to inclusive and sustainable growth

We definitely live in the ‘Era of Travel’, a time in which tourism has become a pillar of our economies and our societies. International tourist arrivals reached a new record in 2016: 1.2 billion. Back in 1950 only 25 million people were travelling internationally. By the year 2030 we will register around 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals.

The tourism sector has continued to grow over recent decades despite challenges, including the global economic crisis; safety and security challenges; health pandemics; and natural disasters. It creates jobs, fosters investment and generates foreign exchange for an increasing number of countries.

In fact, tourism generates, directly and indirectly, one in 11 jobs worldwide while contributing to 10% of global GDP and 7% of global trade. Accounting for $ 1.474 billion, tourism is today the third-biggest export category at global level after chemicals and fuels and the first in many developing countries.
Meanwhile, overall employment continues to be an issue. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the number of unemployed persons globally in 2017 is forecast to stand at just over 201 million – with an additional rise of 2.7 million expected in 2018 – as the pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.

Equitable employment is integral to increasing sustained economic growth, social inclusion, peace and security. As such, job creation should be a priority for all and the potential of every economic sector to provide decent jobs and foster inclusive growth should be utilized to its fullest.


At the end of 2015 the global community agreed on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With its crosscutting, nature tourism can contribute to all 17 Goals – from poverty elimination to gender equality and the fight against climate change. Yet its role is specially included in this people-centred universal agenda as a target in three of the SDGs: Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth; Goal 12 on responsible production and consumption, and; Goal 14 on protecting life under water.

Tourism creates jobs for millions at a time when the failure to provide hope for a better future to people of all regions is one of our biggest global challenges. The sector’s wide reach also stimulates entrepreneurship and growth of micro, small and mediumsized enterprises (MSMEs). MSMEs are the sector’s major job creators, innovators and sources of economic diversification.
With technology and innovation propelling new platform tourism services or the so-called sharing economy, there are also many new employment opportunities in tourism that – if regulated to safeguard quality, a level playing-field and the rights of consumers and employees – can make a large contribution to job creation.


Target 9 of SDG 8 sets a clear objective: ‘By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.’ Yet to take full advantage of tourism’s capacity to create jobs we must invest more in tourism education and training; build public policies that stimulate job creation and include MSMEs in tourism value chains; and bring closer together the public sector, companies and educational institutions.

Today the tourism sector is still suffering from a gap between education and the skills and knowledge needs. The resulting shortages of labour with future-proof skills continue to dent economies and harm jobcreation prospects. This gap can be bridged with policies that support more opportunities for appropriate industry experience, such as internships or scholarships, along with specialized education and training. Crucially, education institutions must work with industry and governments to address the sector’s talent challenges.
We must also support policies that promote decent work in tourism, entrepreneurship, gender equality and youth employment and strengthen the links between tourism and trade policies to promote the access of MSMEs to international markets and global value chains.


Recognizing the value and potential of tourism to contribute to the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This is an excellent opportunity to advance the contribution of tourism to inclusive and sustainable growth, which maximizes the contribution of our sector to a more equitable society. An opportunity to promote the contribution of tourism to achieving the future we want – and also to determine, together, the exact role we will have tourism play in the sustainable development agenda up to and beyond 2030.
Join us in celebrating the International Year and help make a difference in building a more sustainable tourism sector.