While tourism has become the world’s largest economic sector, it still must be handled carefully to avoid such threats as over-development, damage to the environment, the exploitation of workers, the erosion of indigenous culture and the pernicious sex tourism trade, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned.
In a message delivered yesterday to the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development, which has been meeting in Brasilia, Mr. Annan said the World Tourism Organization’s recently established Global Code of Ethics for Tourism was “an excellent step in the right direction.”
In the message – delivered by Carlos Lopes, the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Brazil – the Secretary-General acknowledged the “significant role” tourism can play in helping developing countries climb out of poverty.
“Tourism has a unique potential to promote economic growth and investment at the local level. As a highly labour-intensive sector, it creates job opportunities for unskilled as well as highly qualified labour. It can benefit other economic sectors and small businesses, such as traditional agriculture and food production, handicrafts and textiles,” he said.
But Mr. Annan reminded delegates to the Forum that tourism must be managed carefully to “prevent a wide range of harmful effects that are becoming all too visible in many popular destinations.”
He cited the destruction of the environment through over-development, increasing demands on scarce local resources, the exploitation of workers, threats to indigenous cultures and the organized sex tourism, especially child sex tourism.