World Tourism Day 2021
“Tourism for Inclusive Growth”
The United Nations World Tourism Organization has started formally to celebrate the world tourism day in 1980. Since then, all member states of the UNWTO have been observing the day with due emphasis every year. The UNWTO selects a theme for the celebration of the day which draws attention of the people worldwide towards tourism. This year, on the 42nd anniversary of the day, the UNWTO has announced the theme "Tourism for Inclusive Growth". At its 20th session in Istanbul in 1997, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to designate a host country to act as its partner in the celebration of the Day. This year's celebration will be hosted by Cote d'Ivorie.
The concept of inclusive growth: There is no universally accepted definition of inclusive growth. Inclusive growth achieves a shared approach to economic growth that has fair and equitable outcomes for all sections of people. Economic growth alone is not insufficient for equitable distribution and reducing poverty, since not all are included in the growth process. When tourism engages many people, it contributes to more inclusive growth through employment, equal opportunities, poverty reduction, inequality reduction, equitable distribution, government revenue earnings, supporting labour intensive industries, and social integration. The UNWTO has therefore designated World Tourism Day-2021 as a day to focus on Tourism for Inclusive Growth.
Significance of the day: The world tourism day is observed with great pomp and zeal by governments, tourism firms, and other agencies. This celebration fosters awareness among the community and presents the importance of tourism in terms social, cultural and economic value. This day highlights the importance of travelling and promotes the nations' tourism sector. The World Tourism Day is an opportunity to showcase the existing tourism resources of countries to the potential tourists. It addresses the world's challenges associated with achieving Sustainable Development Goals and the contributions of the sector in attaining these goals. Travelling helps to relax, refresh the minds, and achieve peace. Thus, this day is considered a big landmark for Global Tourism.
Celebration of World Tourism Day in Bangladesh: Bangladesh celebrates the day in multiple ways arranging elaborate programs. BPC, BTB, Dhaka University THM Department, and other public and private organizations chalk out different programs individually and jointly marking the day. A grand rally is held at Dhaka city in the morning of the day. Dhaka University THM Department arranges seminar, round table discussion and cultural programs highlighting the significance of the day. Both the print and electronic media give wide coverage of the day. This helps project our tourism attractions and potentials among the people within and outside the country.
Impact of C-19 on tourism: Tourism is a lifeline for destination countries in the developing world. Millions of jobs and businesses depend on a strong and thriving tourism sector. The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive economic and social impact. The marginalized and the most vulnerable groups have been affected seriously. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, tourism was a major economic sector, employing 1 in 10 people around the world. 1.5 billion people crossed international borders in 2019, providing a source of income for many of the world's developing countries.
In the first half of 2020, international tourist arrivals dropped by 65% due to the crisis. The global tourism industry suffered a total loss of over $4 trillion during 2020. As such, the theme of this year "Tourism for Inclusive Growth" is relevant.
Tourism's role in inclusive growth and recovery: Tourism is a diffuse industry including attractions, transports, hotels, tour operators, travel agents, catering services, souvenir stores, rental cars, etc. These create opportunities for many people who can sustain their livelihoods through tourism. The industry creates job opportunities both in tourism and other allied sectors and thus benefits the poor, unskilled labours, and backward people who are likely to be left behind.
Tourism account for 11% of the world's GDP, 10% of global employment, 12% of global exports and 12% of global investment. Its real growth rate is 4.3% per annum. It has diversified multiplier effects on the economy. Tourism generates jobs across a wide spectrum of skills through its backward and forward linkages. This year's theme lends impetus to recover Tourism Sector which can benefit the larger sections of people.
Ways and means to recover: New approaches are needed for a sustainable tourism recovery, supporting communities and creating jobs. As the growth itself is not sufficient to reduce poverty, policy makers should develop alternative strategies. The inclusive growth is an approach to improve living standards of the marginalized people in the developing world. A robust recovery plan should be charted by every country to move forward for inclusive growth. With the plan and strong coordination, destinations can start bringing back visitors, thereby allowing tourism to recover and inclusive growth. Government should ensure assistance for destinations' preparedness, management and recovery from the pandemic crises.
Long-term plan for diversity, cooperation, pro-poor agenda, sustainability, and inclusiveness should be prepared. This will help promote quality job creation, skills development, economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovation, effective investment, and regional development. To make tourism supportive for inclusive growth, it should also ensure equal access to these jobs. Even and shared distribution of economic growth across the society should also be ensured.
Operators should ensure better management for the sector's development. They should improve tourists' experience, ensure better management of tourism's impacts, and encourage positive broader spillover of economic effects. It is also necessary to mitigate the negative impacts on communities. Tourism should mobilize investment from both public and private sources. Joint venture investment strategy can also be adopted. The quality of investment in tourism should be ensured to generate value, enhance attractiveness, increase competitiveness, support SMEs, and manage demand in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
Measures are needed to develop better understanding among the community on tourism's benefits to ensure inclusive growth. Both public and private sector efforts are needed to brand Bangladesh and create better perceptions among tourists.
It is now the right time to bounce back and take necessary measures for a wider recovery of tourism. Inclusion is an important issue of successful tourism development. The UNWTO, World Bank, and other agencies have commitments to make tourism a poverty reduction tool. They emphasize the distribution of tourism's benefits to larger sections of people. Experts also emphasize that tourism's positive benefits be distributed among women, children, elders, unskilled, famers and community people. Tourism contributes to community development through quality job creation, economic empowerment, and protection of environment and culture.
The UNWTO's attempt for well-being, inclusion, sustainability and equal opportunity (WISE) leads the organization's efforts to put people's well-being at the centre of public policy. By charting intelligent planning, government's policy supports, effective programs, building public-private partnership, making investment, and creating mass awareness in the country--a revolutionary change can be made in the tourism sector of Bangladesh. As tourism solves many of the economic challenges, Bangladesh should reorganize the sector to recover for inclusive growth.
Dr Md Afjal Hossain, Professor,