UN conference spotlights role of tourism in fighting poverty and building peace

20 May 2016

Tourism plays a crucial role in lifting people out of poverty and building peace, participants from more than 100 countries gathered at a United Nations conference in Beijing, China, this week have said, calling for greater efforts to step up international cooperation in that regard.

“Tourism is one of the most dynamic economic sectors, with significant global reach, and as such can make an important contribution to the achievement of the [Sustainable Development Goals] SDGs, particularly in the areas of job creation, sustainable consumption and production and the preservation of natural resources, as stated in Goal 8, Goal 12 and Goal 14 of the SDGs,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in a press release.

The First World Conference on Tourism for Development – which has gathered more than 1,000 participants – is being held from 18 to 21 May under the theme of “Tourism for Peace and Development.”

In a message delivered to the conference by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “When tourism is well-managed, it has tremendous capacity to create decent jobs, provide opportunities for inclusion and education, and contribute to preserving cultural heritage and the environment.”

As part of the conference, a high-level segment on “Sustainable Development through Tourism” analysed how to advance the contribution of tourism to the 17 SDGs, including the sector's ability to create jobs, promote local culture and be an agent of change towards more sustainable consumption and production practices, UNWTO said.

During this session, participants called for an integrated approach to tourism development that can contribute effectively to the SDGs. Issues discussed included effective resource management, the role of the private sector and the need for the SDGs to be understood by all – citizens, policy makers, and the business community, UNWTO said.

Participants in the 'Tourism for Poverty Reduction' high-level session discussed how Governments, the international community, the private sector and academia can collaborate to enhance tourism's contribution to poverty reduction, as well as how to better integrate marginalized and disadvantaged groups, particularly youth and women, into the global tourism value chain.

Another high-level session, on 'Tourism for Peace,' focused on the links between tourism and the building blocks of peace, including social justice, human rights, economic equity, sustainable development, democracy and non-violence. That session also explored how to make the sector more peace-sensitive, and outlined opportunities and the way forward in that regard.

The conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of China.


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