World Tourism Day, environment
The entire world last Wednesday celebrated World Tourism Day. Hurray! For us in tourism, it is a very important annual celebration.
The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
Every World Tourism Day has a different global host country, where the official celebrations take place. The focus on the host country helps highlight the environmental challenges it faces and supports the effort to address them.
This year's host is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where more than 50 ministers of Tourism alongside hundreds of high-level delegates from both the public and private sectors converged to mark the big event.
Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has celebrated World Tourism Day as an international observance on September 27.
This date was chosen on that day in 1970 when the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted.
The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. Being the UN's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for tourism, the celebration resonates with this column.
Since it began, World Tourism Day has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 110 countries.
Each annual event is organised around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing tourism concern. This year the global event was on the theme: “Tourism and green investments.”
Tourism occurs within the environment and whether it is climate change, pollution or poor sanitation, there is an implication for the industry. For us in Ghana, the month of September is quite a tricky one.
It is actually a transition month in more than one sense. The rains have poured and all our environment, including drainage loopholes, is exposed.
Isn’t it a wicked twist of fate that the rains have caused flooding and needless death on the streets of Accra and across the country?
Mercifully, we haven’t been caught off-guard in a major way yet. The environment exists to serve our sustenance. Whether natural or built, we have the responsibility to ensure that it is self-sustaining and especially safe! The Meteors folks tell us to expect more rain.
Some of the nasty videos making the rounds this time are huge swathes of plastic trash floating on flood water. Anyone who doesn’t know the menace of plastic to planet Earth must be coming from Mars whether directly related or not, this season has also witnessed buildings under construction simply crumbling down.
This tragedy exposed the ills of our built environment. It is hoped that these latest events will mark the beginning of a turnaround with regard to how we maintain and protect our public spaces.
Not only would that ensure a more congenial environment for us to function, but it also guarantees the ideal space for tourism activity.
Indeed, tourism, too, has a direct connection with the environment. Actually, the environment and tourism are like twins. In a message, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation stated that much. World Tourism Day is also considered the "people's day" for doing something to take care of the Earth.
That "something" can be focused locally, nationally or globally; it can be a solo action or involve a crowd. Everyone is free to choose.
As one of tourism´s greatest assets, our natural heritage enlivens the global tourism sector, providing a source of livelihood and inclusive development for millions of people worldwide.
Yet, our natural resources and biodiversity face unprecedented environmental challenges. Unrestrained consumption and production over the past decades have directly impacted our natural environment, placing fragile ecosystems, endangered species and natural habitats at risk; oftentimes, with irreversible consequences.
Looming over all of these challenges is the global threat of climate change.
For example, the more people travel across the globe, the more the environment is pressured. More than one billion tourists travel across international borders each year, many of whom are inspired to see our planet´s natural wonders – from majestic landscapes and pristine coastlines to the rich biodiversity of our lands and our seas.
On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2023, we are reminded of our immense responsibility to protect our environment in light of the choices we make.
One billion tourists are one billion opportunities for accelerating the shift. Though small actions may seem inconsequential, just imagine the widespread impact of one responsible action multiplied one billion times. One billion tourists can indeed become one billion global stewards – one united, global force protecting the future of our planet and all people.
On World Tourism Day, let us join the international community and invite all tourists to make their actions count while travelling.
Together we can shoulder the great responsibility of consuming with care.