Tourism has potential to contribute to SDGs says UNWTO 

New Delhi (NVI): Being a key sector for the economic development and job creation globally, the travel and tourism industry has great potential to contribute, directly or indirectly to all the sustainable development goals according to World Tourism Organisation UNWTO. 

In the study, UNWTO listed points based on change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector which can contribute to all the seventeen goals.

How can tourism contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

  • End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Tourism provides income through job creation at local and community levels. So it can be linked with national poverty reduction strategies and entrepreneurship. Low skills requirement and local recruitment can empower less favoured groups, particularly youth and women which will end poverty in all its forms everywhere, said UNWTO in the study. 

  • End hunger, achieve food security and nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Tourism can spur sustainable agricultural by promoting the production and supplies to hotels, and sales of local products to tourists. Agro-tourism can generate additional income while enhancing the value of the tourism experience.

  • Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Tax income generated from tourism can be reinvested in health care and services, improving maternal health, reduce child mortality and preventing diseases. Visitors fees collected in protected areas can as well contribute to health services.

  • Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all

Tourism has the potential to promote inclusiveness. A skilful workforce is crucial for tourism to prosper. This sector provides opportunities for direct and indirect jobs for youth, women, and those with special needs, who should benefit through educational means. 

  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

It can empower women, particularly through the provision of direct jobs and income-generation from MMEs in tourism and hospitality-related enterprises. Also, it can be a tool for women to become fully engaged and lead in every aspect of society. 

  • Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Tourism investment requirement for providing utilities can play a critical role in achieving water access and security, as well as hygiene and sanitation for all. The efficient use of water in tourism, pollution control and technology efficiency can be key to safeguarding our most precious resource.

  • Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

As a sector, which is energy-intensive, tourism can accelerate the shift towards increased renewable energy shares in the global energy mix. By promoting investments in clean energy sources, tourism can help to reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate climate change and contribute to access to energy for all.

  • Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

As services trade, is one of the top four export earners globally, currently providing one in ten jobs worldwide. Decent work opportunities in tourism, particularly for youth and women, and policies that favour better diversification through tourism value chains can enhance tourism positive socio-economic impacts.

  • Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Tourism development relies on good public and private infrastructure. The sector can influence public policy for infrastructure upgrade and retrofit, making them more sustainable, innovative and resource-efficient and moving towards low carbon growth, thus attracting tourists and other sources of foreign investment.

  • Reduce inequality within and among countries

Tourism can be a powerful tool for reducing inequalities if it engages local populations and all key stakeholders in its development. Tourism can contribute to urban renewal and rural development by giving people the opportunity to prosper in their place of origin. Tourism is an effective means of economic integration and diversification.

  • Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Tourism can advance urban infrastructure and accessibility, promote regeneration and preserve cultural and natural heritage, assets on which tourism depends. Investment in green infrastructure (more efficient transport, reduced air pollution) should result in smarter and greener cities for, not only residents but also tourists.

  • Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Tourism sector needs to adopt sustainable consumption and production (SCP) modes, accelerating the shift towards sustainability. Tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for tourism including for energy, water, waste, biodiversity and job creation will result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.

  • Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Tourism contributes to and is affected by climate change. Tourism stakeholders should play a leading role in the global response to climate change. By reducing its carbon footprint, in the transport and accommodation sector, tourism can benefit from low carbon growth and help tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

  • Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for these goals

Coastal and maritime tourism rely on healthy marine ecosystems. Tourism development must be a part of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile marine ecosystems and serve as a vehicle to promote a blue economy, contributing to the sustainable use of marine resources.

  • Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and halt biodiversity loss

Rich biodiversity and natural heritage are often the main reasons why tourists visit a destination. Tourism can play a major role if sustainably managed in fragile zones, not only in conserving and preserving biodiversity but also in generating revenue as an alternative livelihood to local communities.

  • Promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all and build inclusive institutions

As tourism revolves around billions of encounters between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, the sector can foster multicultural and inter-faith tolerance and understanding, laying the foundation for more peaceful societies. Tourism, which benefits and engages local communities, can also consolidate peace in post-conflict societies.

  • Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for goals 

Due to its cross-sectoral nature, tourism has the ability to strengthen private/public partnerships and engage multiple stakeholders – international, national, regional and local – to work together to achieve the SDGs and other common goals. Public policy and innovative financing are at the core for achieving the 2030 Agenda.

–ps