by Cristiana Lopomo GENEVA-SWITZERLAND. Participants from around the world joined the official closing ceremony of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 (IY2017) at the Palace of Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland on December 19 2017. The IY2017 Closing Ceremony brought the International community to commit for realizing the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through tourism, at the national and global level. The IY2017 Closing is not only the end of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, but most importantly it provided a roadmap for the global community at large to embrace sustainable practices and maximize the engagement in the global development agenda. 2017 has provided a unique opportunity to explore and highlight tourism’s potential to help transform our world into a place of prosperity and wellbeing for all. As one of the largest and fastest-growing socio-economic sectors of our times, tourism can stimulate economic growth, create decent jobs and business opportunities, helping millions of people escape poverty and improve their livelihoods. The United Nations designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year has promoted the change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute to all the 17 SDGs.
The Event in Geneva took stock of achievements and progress in advocacy for tourism, and most importantly provided the global community a path towards the future with the introduction to a Tourism and SDGs Platform. After reviewing the year’s main achievements and promote the contribution of tourism to shape a better future for people and planet and to contribute to making this world a better place, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai opened the event. “We count on you as we embark on this exciting new journey towards 2030. I trust that together, as a sector, as people with the same vision and commitment, we will go far,” he said. The Program aimed at advocating for the contribution of sustainable tourism’s to the 17 SDGs and encouraging the full integration of tourism and the SDGs in national, regional and global agendas. It includes the future ‘Tourism and SDGs’ online platform – a co-creation space to inspire and empower the tourism sector to act – developed by UNWTO with the support of SECO and an Ambassadors Initiative.
The Platform provided the roadmap for advancing the contribution of tourism from 2018 to 2030 for Sustainable Development and a space for sharing and co-creation so as the sector can embrace the 2030 Agenda and contributed to prosper and sustainable future for people and the planet. As for the Principality of Monaco’s policy as well as for the private sector strategies, the link between tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shows the relevance for the particular commiment in sectors as Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water. Monaco renovated also its commitmnet to fundamental goals as No Poverty, Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and its Partnerships for the Goals. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another. The SDGs work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. They provide clear guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large. The SDGs are an inclusive agenda. They tackle the root causes of poverty and unite us together to make a positive change for both people and planet. “Poverty eradication is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, and so is the commitment to leave no-one behind,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said. “The Agenda offers a unique opportunity to put the whole world on a more prosperous and sustainable development path. In many ways, it reflects what UNDP was created for.”
The current strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018, though at a more sustainable pace after eight years of steady expansion following the 2009 economic and financial crisis. Based on current trends, economic prospects and the outlook by the UNWTO Panel of Experts, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals worldwide to grow at a rate of 4%-5% in 2018. This is somewhat above the 3.8% average increase projected for the period 2010-2020 by UNWTO in its Tourism Towards 2030 long-term forecast. Europe and the Americas are both expected to grow by 3.5%-4.5%, Asia and the Pacific by 5%-6%, Africa by 5%-7% and the Middle East by 4%-6%.
2017 results by UNWTO region (
International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 671 million in 2017, a remarkable 8% increase following a comparatively weaker 2016. Growth was driven by the extraordinary results in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe (+7%), Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded robust growth.
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) recorded 324 million international tourist arrivals in 2017. Arrivals in South Asia grew 10%, in South-East Asia 8% and in Oceania 7%. Arrivals to North-East Asia increased by 3%.
The Americas (+3%) welcomed 207 million international tourist arrivals in 2017, with most destinations enjoying positive results. South America (+7%) led growth, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%), with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination.
Based on available data for Africa, growth in 2017 is estimated at 8%. The region consolidated its 2016 rebound and reached a record 62 million international arrivals. North Africa enjoyed a strong recovery with arrivals growing by 13%, while in Sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by 5%.
The Middle East (+5%) received 58 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 with sustained growth in some destinations and a strong recovery in others.
Note: All results in this release are based on preliminary data, as reported by the various destinations around the world, and on estimates by UNWTO of still-missing data. UNWTO will continue to collect data and will present more comprehensive data by country in the April issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Results for both Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution as they are based on limited available data.