World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day: Celebrating and Promoting Travel Over the Years

Every year on September 27, World Tourism Day (WTD) is marked to promote awareness about the importance of tourism. It also shows how it influences social, political, cultural, and economic values worldwide. In addition, the day emphasizes the importance of the tourist industry in promoting and conserving cultures and heritage worldwide. World Tourism Day also recognizes the contributions that the tourism industry can make to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

History of World Tourism Day

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) laws were established on September 27, 1970. These sculptures are a watershed moment in world tourism. They laid the ground for the formation of the UNWTO five years later. On September 27, 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) observed the inaugural World Tourism Day. It was to commemorate the organization’s founding. Since then, the day has been observed all around the world.

World Tourism
Credit: Pixabay

They chose this date since the UNWTO Statutes formed on that day in 1970. The passage of these statutes depicts a watershed moment in world tourism. This day aims to promote awareness of tourism’s position in the international community. It also illustrates how it impacts social, cultural, political, and economic values across the world.

Theme of World Tourism Day

The theme of World Tourism Day 20201 is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth,” emphasizing growth and inclusive recovery. In addition, the UNWTO is emphasizing the notion that people are behind every tourist statistic and seeks to recognize this. As per the UN, it guarantees that every segment of the tourist industry has a say in the industry’s evolution.

Significance of World Tourism Day

According to the United Nations, the tourism industry employs one out of every ten people on the planet. For some countries, the industry accounts for more than one-fifth of their GDP (GDP). During the epidemic, 90% of global heritage sites were closed. It left millions of people out of work who rely on tourism for a living. The goal of World Tourism Day is to emphasize the importance of the tourism industry in our lives. It also focuses on inclusive growth in the industry.

The UNWTO General Assembly voted to choose a host nation each year to participate as the Organization’s partner in celebrating World Tourism Day at its Twelfth Session in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 1997. The Assembly agreed to hold World Tourism Day festivities in the following geographical sequence during its Fifteenth Session in Beijing, China, in October 2003. Thereafter, 2006 in Europe, 2007 in South Asia, 2008 in the Americas, 2009 in Africa, and 2011 in the Middle East. The late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, a Nigerian native, suggested declaring September 27 as World Tourism Day every year. In 2009, everyone acknowledged him for his efforts. Blue is the official colour of World Tourism Day.

World Tourism and SDG
Credit: UNWTO

World Tourism Day 2021

The UN Global Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has chosen World Tourism Day 2021 to focus on Tourism for Inclusive Growth as part of their goal to relaunch tourism to help the pandemic-ravaged world overcome the huge negative social and economic effects. In other words, no one should be denied the economic and social benefits of tourism.

As per UNWTO, it is an “opportunity to look beyond tourist statistics and recognize that, behind every figure, there is a person’. The WTD raises awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political, and economic importance. It also highlights the sector’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The timing of the global observance is noteworthy. It is because it coincides with the conclusion of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the start of the season in the southern hemisphere.

According to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, “the human urge to travel and discover is universal. This is why tourism must be available for everyone to enjoy.” So, too, must the numerous social and economic advantages of tourism be available to all.”

“The halt in international travel caused by the epidemic has highlighted the importance of tourism in our societies.” The sector’s economic and social effect has been felt well beyond its borders. And in many instances, the most vulnerable people of society have taken the brunt of the damage. Working for inclusive growth entails rallying everyone around a more positive vision for tourism. Only in this way will tourism be able to reach the people and communities that need it the most right now, laying the groundwork for a brighter future for all,” said Zurab Pololikashvili.

Cote d’Ivoire will host the official ceremony this year. It is located on the south coast of West Africa and is popularly known as the Ivory Coast (legally Republic of Côte d’Ivoire).

WTD and India

India, for its part, will mark World Tourism Day with a variety of events. The Union Ministry of Tourism will launch the tNIDHI 2.0 (National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry) and the ‘India Tourism Statistics – At a Glance, 2021’. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will also be signed between the Ministry of Tourism, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and The Responsible Tourism Society of India (ROI) to actively promote and support each other’s “sustainable efforts” in the tourism industry.

World Tourism and Rural Development
Credit: Pixabay

World Tourism Day in the Last Ten Years

WTD 2020: Tourism and Rural Development

“Tourism and Rural Growth” recognizes the sector’s unique capacity to stimulate economic development and create possibilities outside of major cities, especially in underserved regions. World Tourism Day 2020 also emphasized the critical role that tourism plays in conserving and promoting culture and history worldwide. The United Nations World Tourism Organization has selected 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development. It was an excellent chance to showcase tourism’s ability to generate employment and opportunities. It also promoted inclusiveness by emphasizing the unique role that tourism can play in maintaining and promoting natural and cultural assets and reducing urban migration.

WTD 2019: Tourism and Jobs

Because of its labour-intensive nature and the considerable multiplier effect on employment in adjacent sectors, tourism is a significant source of employment. According to estimates, one job in the core tourist industry generates around one and a half extra or indirect employment in the tourism-related economy. As a result, tourism employs one in every ten people globally. According to the International Labour Organization, ‘accommodation and restaurants,’ together with ‘private sector services,’ will add employment at the highest rate of any economic sector during the next five years. Moreover, tourism is a dependable economic activity as each of the seven years following the global economic crisis of 2010, the number of foreign visitor arrivals increased by 4% or more.

WTD 2018: Sustainability & Digital transformation in Tourism

Utilizing innovation and technological advancement allows tourism to enhance inclusivity, local community empowerment, and effective resource management, among other goals within the larger sustainable development agenda. Sustainability is essential to maintain in the present day world and specifically in the tourism industry as it generates huge components of unsustainable practices in the name of tourism.

WTD 2017: International Year of Sustainable Tourism or Development

Tourism contributes to all three elements of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – and each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as the United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Not only does the sector drive growth, but it also improves people’s lives.

World Tourism Day 2017 provided a unique opportunity to raise awareness among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community. It is about the contribution of sustainable tourism to development while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together to make tourism a catalyst for positive change.

WTD 2016: Promoting Universal Accessibility

Accessible tourism for everyone entails creating surroundings that can meet all of us, whether we are going or staying at home. Whether it’s due to a momentary handicap, a family with small children, or an ageing population, we all benefit from universal accessibility in tourism at some time in our lives, sooner or later.

The subject of World Tourist Day, “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility,” served as a deliberate reminder to work for integration to increase each country’s tourism potential and develop a mutual understanding of diverse cultures and customs. Tourism goes beyond numbers and statistics because it has the power to bring people from all over the world together peacefully and without discrimination. It brings them together in a world where we respect one another and strive for a common goal of sustainable tourism and human capital development.

Tourists in Prague
Credit: Pixabay

WTD 2015: 1 Billion Tourists 1 Billion Opportunities

World Tourism Day 2015 stood as a reminder of the potential provided by the tourism industry for the promotion of new socioeconomic prospects and improved livelihoods for communities. The tourist industry is more than simply an opportunity; it is a thriving industry with a billion potential for our destinations’ economic and social growth. One billion visitors may become a huge source of happiness and long-term growth for the entire planet—one billion chances for advancement and poverty elimination, particularly in developing nations.

WTD 2014: Tourism and Community Development

WTD 2014 was observed worldwide under the theme Tourism and Community Development, emphasizing tourism’s capacity to empower people and equip them with skills to effect change in their local communities. The subject is well suited to add to the discussion on tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations’ post-2015 development roadmap that prioritizes local involvement.

WTD 2013: Tourism and Water: Protecting Our Common Future

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2013 was commemorated in support of the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, with Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future. The topic highlighted tourism’s role in water access, shining a focus on the sector’s current efforts to contribute to a more sustainable water future, as well as the difficulties ahead.

WTD 2012: Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development

Tourism, one of the world’s most important economic industries, has already taken significant strides toward this future, improving energy efficiency and progressively utilizing renewable energy technology in its operations. These actions help to create jobs, raise people out of poverty, and safeguard the environment. Therefore, the topic for WTD 2012 was to emphasize tourism’s role in a brighter energy future, a future in which the whole world’s population has access to modern, efficient, and economical energy services.

Cultural Show in Bangkok
Credit: Pixabay

WTD 2011: Tourism-Linking Cultures

World Tourism Day 2011 highlighted the significance of conserving and promoting the world’s cultures in all of their manifestations. Culture, which entices millions of tourists to go and spend, is not only valuable in and of itself, but it is also a critical instrument for the development of a sustainable tourism industry. As such, it must be managed and protected with care, as stated in the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. It states that “tourism policies and activities should be conducted with respect for artistic, archaeological, and cultural heritage, which they should protect and pass on to future generations.”

WTD 2010: Tourism and Biodiversity

WTD 2010 had the subject “Tourism and Biodiversity.” The subject provided a once-in-a-lifetime chance to promote public awareness of the value of biodiversity in tourism and the significance of sustainable tourism in protecting life on Earth. The subject of “Tourism and Biodiversity” is especially relevant in 2010. Concerned about the ongoing loss of biological variety, the United Nations General Assembly designated 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. The year corresponds with the goal set by countries in 2002 to achieve a significant decrease in the pace of biodiversity loss by 2010.

World Tourism Day 1980-2009 (Themes)

  • 2009: Tourism – Celebrating Diversity
  • 2008: Tourism Responding to Challenge of Climate Change
  • 2007: Tourism Opens Doors for Women
  • 2006:  Tourism Enriches
  • 2005 Tourism and Transport
  • 2004:  Sport and Tourism
  • 2003: Tourism: A Driving Force for Poverty Alleviation, Job Creation & Social
  • 2002: Ecotourism
  • 2001: Tourism: A Tool for Peace and Dialogue among Civilizations
  • 2000: Technology and Nature: Two Challenges for Tourism
  • 1999: Tourism: Preserving World Heritage
  • 1998: Public-private Sector Partnership: The Key to Tourism Development & Promotion
  • 1997: Tourism: A Leading Activity of the 21st century for Job Creation and Environmental Protection
  • 1996: Tourism: A Factor of Tolerance and Peace
  • 1995: WTO: Serving World Tourism for 20 Years
  • 1994: Quality Staff, Quality Tourism
  • 1993: Tourism Development & Environmental Protection: Towards a Lasting Harmony
  • 1992: Tourism: A Factor of Growing Social & Economic Solidarity
  • 1991: Communication, Information and Education: Powerlines of Tourism Development
  • 1990: Tourism: An Unrecognized Industry
  • 1989: The Free Movement of Tourists Creates One World
  • 1988: Tourism: Education For All
  • 1987: Tourism for Development
  • 1986: Tourism: A Vital Force for World Peace
  • 1985: Youth Tourism
  • 1984: Tourism for International Understanding, Peace & Cooperation
  • 1983: Travel and Holidays are a Right but also a Responsibility for All
  • 1982: Pride in Travel: Good Guests and Good Hosts
  • 1981: Tourism and the Quality of Life
  • 1980: Tourism’s Contribution to the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Peace & Mutual Understanding


World Tourism Day is an excellent day to promote and develop the industry and to create awareness about sustainable tourism for all. As UNWTO puts it, World Tourism Day works to “celebrate tourism’s unique capacity to guarantee that no one is left behind as the globe begins to open up again and look to the future.”

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